For now, town hall will stand.
At last night's special town meeting, an article to appropriate $550,000 to create plans for a new town hall was was defeated despite earning the majority of votes. While the vote was 117 to 116 in favor of the article, a two-thirds majority was needed for the article to pass.
Before the vote, retired architect Dick Heydecker, who headed an ad hoc group on the issue of town hall, proposed an amendment to decrease the funding to $350,000. The amendment was defeated 147-163.
Those speaking against the article were weary of the size and price of the building. Permanent Municipal and School Building Committee chairman Bill Yukna defended the price, citing the town’s record on the renovation of the Ahern school, the high school, the Boyden Library, and the constuction of the Public Safety Building.
“So far on the four projects I’ve named, we’ve come under budget and usually the money rolls into the next project,” Yukna said.
Responding to recommendations for renovation, Yukna said the building may be too old and not constructed well enough to handle renovation.
“We started looking at the building and we started looking at the masonry work and it concerned us. The problem with a renovation project is once you start you’re too far in to stop,” Yukna said,
Heydecker however, argued that the content would be the same inside a renovated and a new building.
“In the new building they’re all new, in the old building, they’re all new. The difference is the shell and the shell has value,” Heydecker said.
Former AdCom member John L Deris felt there were too many unknowns to take on a multi-million dollar project.
"Where has a reasonable detailed response to Mr. Heydecker been? I have not seen it," he said. "I feel it’s premature to approve the full amount, the homework has not been one."
Article 1 to pay a $28,000 bill from the Norfolk Country Agricultural High School based on the number of students from the town attending the school during the school year, to pay for the first six month of the new town manager’s salary, and to pay $8,046 for the new town manager’s health benefits all passed with large margins.
The new town manger’s pay was approved only after an amendment to decrease the amount from $84,808 to $77,000.
Selectman Jim DeVellis said the original amount was to give the town room to negotiate if needed.
As expected, no action was taken to transfer from available funds $600,000 for the construction of a modular building and appurtenances to house the Foxboro DPW staff at 70 Elm St. due to higher than expected bids.
With the approval of Article 5, Foxboro will adopt a sewer service area. The sewer service area would be defined as those properties currently hooked into the town’s sewer system and a specific geographical area surrounding the town common and not currently on sewer as identified by the planning board and included in the Master Plan.
Both articles by the planning board were passed with near unanimous votes. Article 6 allows the town to accept a grant in the amount of $232,000 and to authorize the Board of Selectmen to administer if received. The grant will be used to improve the Payson Road Recreation Facility.
The final vote of the meeting and the second article from the planning board amended the Foxboro zoning by-laws to allow for dead-end roads in excess of 800 feet and shared driveways both via a special permit process.