With a leaky roof, a filthy basement, and more problems than can be listed, there is now a sense of urgency to come up with a solution for temporary space for town employees working in the basement of town hall and to create a new plan concerning the future of town hall.
As part of a discussion with building commissioner Bill Casbarra the Aug. 20 meeting of the Foxboro Board of Selectmen, three short term solutions to address the issue of short term office space were proposed while a long term solution is prepared for this fall’s special town meeting.
“Between now and town meeting, there’s going to be one plan standing and it’s going to go to town meeting,” selectman Jim DeVellis said.
Looking to move the five employees currently in the basement, options include placing a doublewide 23x60 office trailer in the parking lot, looking at renting the former post office at the center of town, and converting the Gala Meeting Room into offices.
The trailer would cost $32,807 per year to lease while the former post office is available for $12 a square foot. The building, which is expected to be available soon, it would keep local departments in the center of town. However, the two floor, 7,700 square foot structure is believed to be too big for the departments that need the space.
The price does not take into consideration the cost of moving departments including files and documents needed.
A temporary move to a new building would create questions about who would go over to the new space according to selectwoman Ginny Coppola.
“If we decide to rent space in the old post office, what would be the criteria of who moves over there?” she asked, “I know many of the offices are involved with meetings held here in the selectmen’s meeting room. If you have planning board or conservation, they have records they need to check during meetings.”
If a temporary move were to happen, it would likely be core groups to lower the risk of residents having to run back and forth between two buildings.
Responding to the issue of meetings, selectmen chairman Mark Sullivan said if a department that has meetings gets moved, they will have to do their due diligence to make sure they have their documents.
Long term, the board would prefer to try to keep each department in town hall for convenience.
“It’s something I would like to avoid in the long term but if it’s something we can do in the short term, i would be amenable to that,” Sullivan said.
Right now, it appears that members of the board are leaning towards allowing the Gala Meeting Room to be used as office space, potentially displacing the selectmen and other boards that use the room.
“My decision would be to move the people up here right now and just move the meetings to the library,” Sullivan said. “If we have to move around a little bit then we can move around to a little bit.”
Selectmen meetings would have to be moved to either the meeting rooms at the Boyden Library or the Foxboro High School Media Center.
As far as a new building is concern, demolishing and constructing a new town hall in the parking lot is still on the table, but the town has to figure out first what is under the parking lot with a core sample. With the lot also serving as the former location of the old Central School, no one is sure if the school’s foundation was removed according to Casbarra. Funding for the core samples would have to go to town meeting as there is currently no money available for the procedure.
Approval for the $500,000 to come up with a design still needs to be approved at a town meeting and has been rejected by the voters in the past.
Public input was not allowed during the discussion with Sullivan deciding to put the issue to rest. The board will continue the discussion at their next meeting when they hope to meet with a committee dedicated specifically to the issue and other officials to work out a proposal.