HANSON — The Highway Building Committee is looking to educate the public on the need and cost of building a new facility and tearing down — and cleaning the site — of the current building, its chairman, Selectman Kenny Mitchell reported to the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, July 25.
A series of public meetings is planned to accomplish that aim, Mitchell said. Town Administrator Michael McCue also attended the committee’s last meeting on July 17, along with a representative from project engineering firm Weston & Sampson.
The Committee and engineers will be working to educate the public on the need and cost for the project both for use of the existing structure at the former LiteControl site — as well as for starting from scratch. They will also be crunching numbers on the potential site cleanup costs at the current highway barn.
An environmental assessment of that existing facility is required in the first phase, which could cost about $15,000. Phase II would depend on what is identified in the assessment, Mitchell said, but could range between $10,000 and $30,000.
“One way or another, we need to know what we’re dealing with on [the current highway barn] property,” agreed Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett. “People want to know, soup-tonuts, how much it is going to cost.”
Mitchell said the cost for taking down the old building and site cleanup is needed, but the two issues cannot be combined, one reason being funding sources.
“Anytime you do demos, you can’t put that in a 20-year debt exclusion,” he said.
“You’re going to want to do it in stages,” she agreed. “But at least people will be fully informed of what the plan is.”
The firm has been working on Highway/DPW projects for a couple of other towns while Hanson has been holding meetings on its project. Cost increases on those projects have moved the company to suggest finetuning the numbers before the committee goes to Town Meeting for the cost of engineering and final design phase.
The engineering costs should be known by Aug 20, Mitchell said.
“That’s going to allow us to do an actual RFP on the building next March and get an actual, physical cost that somebody’s committed to build this building, and then we’ll be able to go to Town Meeting and say … it’s going to cost X-amount,” he said. “We’ll have a number so we’re not playing that Russian-roulette game and we’re not losing that precious time we’re all concerned about.”
Hubbell’s Chief Engineer Matt O’Neill has reported to the building panel on July 17 that the company’s cleanup work at the Hawks Avenue site if 95-percent complete, but planting in the wetlands have not been finished because of the rain.
“He admitted to me that they’re a year behind,” Mitchell said. “This fall, there is no question in his mind, that they’ll be able to do that. Once the permit is closed, from the Army Corps of Engineers, at that point they can subdivide the property and convey it over to the town of Hanson.”
That would not realisticallyhappen before winter,Mitchell reported.
Appointed town boards and commissions that have not video recorded meetings in the past have already begun doing so, McCue noted. Two cameras and tripods are currently available to be distributed for use as needed.
“I have not heard back from the Finance Committee, the Planning Board, or from any of the other elected boards where, obviously, it is up to them,” he said. “We can’t tell them [to do it]. We’re encouraging them, but they need to choose whether they are going to do that or not.”
The Water Commission did film one of its last meetings, using a VHS recorder — one in almost-new condition — but a third digital camera and tripod is being provided to that board, as VHS tape cassettes are harder to come by these days.
Newer cameras record video onto a USB thumb drive, he said.
Former volunteer videographer Richard Edgehille said he could help find tapes for use with the VHS camera. He also argued the filming of meetings could help spur residents to volunteer to serve on boards and commissions.
“If you don’t advertise, you can’t make money,” he said. “If you cover those boards, you’re going to get participation.”
Selectman Don Howard argued that, if more meetings are filmed, residents would opt to stay home and watch meetings on TV.
Edgehille gestured to the nearly-empty chamber.
“Look at the room now,” he said.
“We need new people to get involved,” Selectmen Chairman James McGahan agreed.
Selectmen also discussed public access to the recordings.
“It’s great that we’re recording it, but accessibility is really about getting put out there,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said asking how soon are recordings uploaded to YouTube and how long are they archived there.
Selectman Don Howard said it takes about a week to get the recordings uploaded and McCue said he will look at how archives can be accessed online.
McCue and McGahan met with Arlene Dias of the Cable Access Board of Directors and WHCA-TV Executive Director Eric Dresser on Friday, July 28 regarding the contract with Hanson and may be reporting back to Selectmen on the status of the contract at the Aug. 15 meeting.
In other business, Mc-Cue reported he plans to negotiate for ne request for proposal services as “good business sense to go out there and see what is available.” There is a possibility the town will remain with its current provider, but he wanted to determine if there are other options out there.
McCue also reported he has met with the Library Trustees regarding potential expansion and relocation. He also said he has received a favorable quote on a new ramp for the Hanson Food Pantry and will be drawing up a contract with the bidder, which will also be submitting a quote for windows, to be compared with other price quotes.