WHITMAN — As the town’s Buildings, Facilities and Capital Expenditures Committee met to close the book on fiscal 2016 Thursday, June 30 it reorganized, reviewed its responsibilities and looked to the next phase of a Public Works building.
Work on test borings involved in the DPW project, involving a new garage facility, were allowed to start with the new fiscal year July 1 and must be done before a structural engineer is brought in to design a foundation, according to committee member and Building Inspector Robert Curran.
Town Meeting approved funds for site assessment and design within the fiscal 2017 budget.
“If we can stay on this, we can probably have a project scope and reasonable cost estimates before the end of the calendar year,” said Town Administrator Frank Lynam. “[That] would give us a decent amount of time to hold public meetings and hearings and make sure people know what we’re doing and are informed enough to come out and make a decision on it at the next annual [Town] Meeting.”
The aim would be to begin construction — should the project be approved — by about December 2017.
“The major focus of the committee for the next 24 months or so is going to be building a DPW building,” he said.
Lynam said the committee has assumed the duties of the Capital Advisory Committee in addition to its role as a building committee.
“We have tried for several years to get an effective Capital Advisory Committee but, for whatever reason, it just never worked,” Lynam said. He then went to the Board of Selectmen asking for a redefined role for the Buildings, Facilities and Capital Expenditures Committee and dissolve the Capital Advisory Committee. Town Meeting voted to do so by amending the by-laws in May.
“This committee is now charged with capital facilities and capital expenditures,” he said. “We are concerned with ensuring that our infrastructure and major capital purchases are reviewed and evaluated and that a recommendation is made.”
He stressed that, going forward, the committee would “have a voice in all major projects and in all significant capital expenditures” looking at them from both a utility and cost standpoint.
Because of the DPW project, Lynam said he has been urging that department to get “somebody very involved” in the Buildings, Facilities and Capital Expenditures Committee and DPW Commissioner Wayne Carroll was appointed. A Whitman resident and retired Hanson firefighter, Carroll will play an important role on the panel.
“Wayne is what I would call a frugal person,” Lynam said. “He’s willing to pay for what needs to be done but he’s not a ‘let’s throw money at it and see if it works’ kind of guy.”
Carroll was also elected to take over the chairmanship from Lynam, whose duties have increased since the departure of Assistant Town Administrator Greg Enos this spring. Lynam will stay on as a member, as required by his position, and will serve as vice chairman with Selectman Dan Salvucci remaining as clerk.
Right now, Lynam said he has $163,009 in projects pending for the Green Communities grant to deal with, as well as three projects under the Community Compact — $25,000 for a wage and personnel study, $15,000 for solar energy project analysis and some $10,000 for the reuse plan for the old Regal property. Mass Development funded an environmental study that has found cadmium and chromium on the site.
“Chromium can either be your friend or your enemy,” he said, noting he signed an extension agreement with Mass Development, allowing them to continue their research on the 17-acre site next to the railroad station. “We’re waiting for those studies to be completed.”
In other business, Lynam noted that some issues remain which have delayed completion of the Town Hall air-conditioning project. The project account has $69,680 left in it, but some of that has to be reserved to repair the auditorium floor, where past humidity problems have caused it to buckle.
Due to a complication following replacement of the Town Hall’s computer network core switch, the network in place was not communicating with a faster switch, and the slower device for the air-conditioning network was not communicating with the server, causing heat and humidity problems in the auditorium a few weeks ago.
A hub was installed to slow down the network and permit the necessary system communication without affecting the rest of the network.
There is also an issue with smoke controls designed to close the air vents in case of fire that town officials have not been able to link to the fire panel because that panel is proprietory — and license has been taken over by the Tyco Corp.
“Only one company in the world can take care of it, and they won’t give us the codes,” Lynam said. “We are working to get those codes.”