Town House project needs an overhaul

Oct 10, 2016

To the Editor:

The Town House project is in disarray and developing strong opposition by many in the community looking for fiscal restraint. The $12,000,000 proposed project does not factor in foreseeable cost overruns or costs for relocating town administration during the renovation. Realistically the TH project balloons to $15,000,000.

The Proposed Warrant article requesting approval for $476, 976 for continuing design work on the project brings the total design expenses and authorizations to approximately $1,000,000. All this when there is no clear community support for the project without which we should not attempt to move forward.

In order to obtain community support, the Board of Selectmen should consider taking the following action:

1.     Place a stand still on continuing Town House design spending until a clear community census is obtained, including a project spending cap.

2.     Restructure the Town House Committee for better balance and objectivity to allow additional views to have a voice.

3.     Charge the restructured committee with the task of “starting over” to objectively evaluate all options on the merits including new opportunities for the VFW property and all other municipal facilities as well as alternative private uses for the Town House.

Ted North

Comments (1)
Posted by: Robert Raymond | Oct 13, 2016 11:15

The Town House Building Committee (THBC) welcomes the evolving public discussion this project is generating. While well intentioned, many critics are ill-informed. Here  are a few clarifications.

  • The THBC and its predecessor committees have held dozens of public committee meetings; 3 well attended public forums; a special presentation following the spring 2015 Town Meeting; posted information on social media; been published in all 4 local media outlets; held joint meetings with the Finance Committee the Capital Improvement Committee and the Board of Selectmen. All our important documents and cost estimates are posted on the town's web site. We have a video on ORCTV.
  • We evaluated 17 different schemes and had the advice of top consultants in the fields of municipal architecture and cost estimating before arriving at the current scheme.
  • We have had 2 Town Meeting votes supporting by acclamation the funding of our design effort.
  • The projected $11.97M budget contains $ 1.6M in soft costs and project contingency plus $954k design and pricing contingency. All of this is available for relocations and any surprises occurring during construction and represents 32% total contingency on an expected $7.95M construction contract.
  • Bond rates are historically low but construction costs are rising rapidly in our tight labor market . Every day the project is delayed will cost $1500 in construction escalation
  • This important public building has suffered from a pattern of neglect, delay, and postponement for 40 years. The THBC is committed to hear all voices and define a project that meets with the voters approval and budgets but encourage all parties to work towards a quick resolution.

Bob Raymond



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