With proposals to renovate or build a new town hall polarizing at best, the town will now look at the possibly of leasing space for employees working at town hall.
“That’s an option that has been asked to be explore and we agree we would like to explore a lease option,” Finance Director Randy Scollins said.
Discussing the solution last week with the selectmen, Scollins, Building Commissioner Bill Casbarra, and Permanent Municipal and School Building Committee Chairman Bill Yukna said that they will seek requests for proposals which could be either a short term solution or long term solution for town hall.
“If we write the proposal properly it could be the three to five year solution which you could use as a back stop. However, it could be the long term solution,” Yukna said.
While the desire of the selectmen is to stay near the center of town, a lack of options in town may not allow for a short move from town hall and could see town employees working a few miles down the road from the downtown area.
“I think we’ve been consistent when we’ve said we want it in the center of town, but it may not be possible,” Selectman John Gray said.
Selectman Ginny Coppola was worried about what a move out of downtown could mean for the town when discussing the possible locations to lease. The closest building to downtown that is being considered is Chestnut Green near the Foxboro Public Safety Building. Other options include leasing office space on Foxborough Boulevard.
“They (the offices) have their advantages but they’re not in the center of town. It’s a commitment and you would hate to change the character of downtown possibly,” Coppola said. “I understand though that something has to be done with town hall.
Selectmen Chairman Mark Sullivan also suggested looking into some space soon to be vacated by Invensys.
Selectman Jim DeVellis asked if it was possible for a developer to construct a building for the town to lease but Scollins said that the process for RFP must be followed due to state procurement laws.
“It would be inappropriate for us to focus just on that. We have to go though a formal request for proposal process. Maybe that comes forward and we’ll see some interesting options,” Scollins said.
After a facetious comment by DeVellis on the possibility of using the old fire station, Scollins mentioned that if the the municipal sewage district agreement is approved at Mansfield's Annual Town Meeting, more options may open up.
"That unlocks a lot of things for downtown so the fire station and the properties that abuts it could become an attractive property," Scollins said.
According to Scollins, the plan is to sync up a time table to town meeting for funding purposes. About $250,000 is expected to be requested at May’s Annual Town Meeting.
Due to the current state of town hall, workers have been moved into the Gala Meeting Room, forcing the selectmen to hold meetings at Foxboro High School. Other boards have been relocated to McGinty Meeting Room at the Public Safety Building and the Boyden Library.
At the special town meeting in Nov. 2, a proposal to fund the creation of plans for a new town hall obtained the approval of the voters by one vote, but did not pass due to rules requiring a two-thirds majority to transfer the funds.