HANSON — Progress reports on building razing and raising projects, were discussed at the Board of Selectmen’s Feb. 28 meeting.
Town Administrator Michael McCue reported that removal of asbestos and other hazardous materials at the former Plymouth County Hospital building is about 80-percent complete, and Selectman Bill Scott reported on progress of the Highway Building Committee.
The PCH building tear-down is expected to take place beginning this Friday, March 10, after the Building Department issues a full demolition permit. Preliminary work was expected to begin March 1.
In the meantime, a surveillance camera has been placed at the site to monitor against further trespassing incidents for safety and liability reasons. McCue, police and demolition contractor have access to the camera feed.
The cameras were bought with funds already approved under the bond issue for the project.
Scott reported that he had received confirmation on the scheduling of cleanup at the Lite Control property ahead of construction of a new highway facility there.
“The only thing they have left to do is the actual planting to recreate some of the conservation area,” he said. “They’ve had to wait to do that for spring.” The work is expected to be done sometime in April.
“That puts off any effort on our part to move forward any potential for an article to fund a highway facility down there, because they cannot turn the property over to us until such time as all of their permits have been honored and followed up,” Scott said.
Scott said the Highway Building Committee was disappointed to see the cost reach the $4.5-million range, but stressed the cost would also include the tear-down and cleanup of the old facility.
The cleanup at the Lite Control property, on the other hand, is complete, but that regulatory agencies such as DEP and the Corps of Engineers must give final approval before the site is turned over to the town.
“Obviously, we will not be able to move forward at this town meeting,” he said.
Selectman Kenny Mitchell, also a member of the Highway Building Committee, said the first price quote received on the project was “a lot more that $4.5 million.”
“It was closer to $7 million,” he said. “We worked hard, and by eliminating things … we got it down.”
Mitchell and Scott said an open house sometime in the spring is being considered to provide residents a chance to see conditions in the current facility. Scott noted that today’s bigger trucks won’t fit inside the current garage, but have to be stored in a repair shop bay.
Facilities for staff use are also less than desirable.
“Go in there — go use the men’s room,” Mitchell said. “You’ll be quite surprised. … I wouldn’t let my dog use the facilities over there.”
Selectman Bruce Young said the current buildings were WW II surplus, transported from Maine at no cost to the town.
Resident Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett asked if the Priority Repair Committee set up for school roof projects in 2014 could be expanded to assess the needs of other town buildings.
“I know why the focus was originally those two schools … but we own a lot of other buildings and, as we have seen, these have tended to go into disrepair and then they cost a lot of money,” she said. “I like the way the Priority Repair Committee is focused on repairs and nothing else.”
Young pointed out that members of the Priority Repair Committee are in the related trades and added that a town facilities manager would be an asset, perhaps as a shared position with another town through an inter-municiple agreement.
Selectmen Chairman James McGahan said FitzGerald-Kemmett raised a good point, recalling that former Town Administrator Ron San Angelo had composed a facilities report recommending a checklist on repair needs. Scott also indicated that former Selectman Jim Egan had recommended a facilities management company or team consult on such projects.
“It never really got any traction, but this feeds into exactly what you’re saying,” Scott said of FitzGerald-Kemmett’s suggestion. “We’ve got to take care of these buildings, otherwise we’ll be faced with similar situations like we are with our schools.”
Egan said he had advocated was a part-time, town-funded facilities management position to track the maintenance needs of all town buildings to keep ahead of problems.
“It didn’t materialize simply because we didn’t have the money,” he said. “It was discussed at the board level, but we did not present it to Town Meeting, again, because we were in the kind of fiscal straits that were not conducive to expanding our personnel.”
Selectmen also began kicking around the implications of any School Department closing of Maquan School, arguing that in such a case a tear-down or an outright sale of the building might be among the best options for the town, financially.