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Leasing May Be New Solution for Town Hall

Leasing may be a solution for town hall.

Foxboro Town Hall
Foxboro Town Hall

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.

Bob O'Rourke January 27, 2014 at 08:09 PM
There are companies that specialize in storing records, namely Iron Mountain. Again there is no need for the town to provide such storage at ridiculous cost to the tax payers when others do it professionally and are very good at it. The private sector realizes that companies provide this storage better than they can and use these services, why can't the Town of Foxboro? Why try to reinvent the wheel and spend tax payers money without investigating the best options. Long term leasing is proven to be better than owning especially when maintaining buildings in the town doesn't occur. Don't reinvent the wheel here folks, look at all the options and do what is best for the town, rent office space for the town hall, hire Iron Mountain or another such company for storage and put the old fire station and the town hall up for sale and sell themto the highest bidder and move on!
Dennis Naughton January 28, 2014 at 02:38 PM
Where's the civic pride in a rent-a-space town hall? The seat of our municipal government should be a source of pride for the citizens and should not be governed only by the bottom line. Also, there is a lack of civic meeting space in our town, a deficit that needs to be corrected. There is nothing wrong with being responsible with town funds in planning and building a new town hall, but that is what we need to do.
Steve January 28, 2014 at 03:14 PM
Agreed Dennis, I am not enamored by the thought of leasing (long term) a town hall building. But getting this dollar amount is a good thing when weighing the options for a new (or renovated) town hall. If by some crazy circumstance that a lease would cost the tax payers millions of dollars less than building a "Taj Mahal" then maybe, just maybe their plans for the building would be scaled back to a more reasonable number. Things like "off-site" storage of permanent records should be looked into as the cost of a square foot building drop considerably when you don't waste it on storage.
Dennis Naughton January 28, 2014 at 04:02 PM
I absolutely agree that off-site storage is the way to go if that is practical from the standpoint of need-to-access and also within the requirements of state law. Those questions should be easy to answer. I also agree that we can do a reasonable comparison on a short-term lease, primarily in the interests of our town hall employees. The conditions under which they are compelled to work are unacceptable. But to me it would have to be understood that it was temporary and had a specific ending provision. On the other hand, the building of a new town hall will never be cheaper than it is right now. Finally, I think it would be best for us to let go of the "Taj Mahal" terminology. It has been around too long and I believe it infuses an misdirecting emotional element into what should be a rational deliberation.
Steve January 28, 2014 at 04:15 PM
The "Taj Mahal" nick name is somewhat appropriate as many believe the plans drawn up for a new town hall are extravagant in many ways. Many of the taxpayers in this town felt that the public safety building was ripe with these extravagances and do not want to see history repeat itself. If the plans came forth for a nice renovation of the existing building or for a modest (but nice) new town hall, this building would be half built by now. Mr. Heydecker has done a tremendous job of pointing out several ways to reduce the overall cost of this project and yet he has been shunned for years. He even had to file open meeting law violations just to get answers to his questions. This is no way to run a government let alone a multi million dollar project. It's no wonder this idea gets shot down time after time.

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