By Meredith McCulloch
At their December 16 meeting the Selectmen postponed bidding for renovation of the mechanical and electrical systems in Town Hall, although the design documents for the Town Hall Building Systems Replacement project are almost completed. An early estimate of the work was $800,000 but in October the estimate from the architect came in at $2,975,000. Due to the higher than anticipated cost, the Selectmen explored the possibility of doing the project in parts.
Town Manager Richard Reed said it would be more expensive and more disruptive to do the project in phases. In addition it would require more management time by the Facilities Department. He hopes to go to Annual Town Meeting with a bid.
“Town Hall is not really a very big building and it is very disruptive to do it in pieces,” Facilities Manager Richard Jones added. Jones said his recommendation was to be proactive rather than reactive. He sees Town Hall as the first of several buildings that will need attention as their systems age, mentioning the police, fire and library which were renovated in the ‘90s. Selectman Mark Siegenthaler remarked that those buildings were built on the basis of space needs. “We may need a space study again for police and fire, or maybe the library.”
The building’s mechanical systems date from 1987 when the building was renovated for use as the town hall, and are now 26 years old. It had been the town’s first school building.
William Moonan, the Selectmen’s liaison to the Capital Expenditure Committee, said that looking at capital needs in the future, about 1 million [$1M] a year is needed. The committee is concerned about how to accommodate this project.
A November 26 report written by Jim O’Neil, a member of the Capital Expenditure Committee and a mechanical engineer, was distributed. He had done a detailed review of the systems accompanied by Richard Jones. O’Neil wrote, “I concluded that the documents are complete in scoping out the cost for upgrading systems at Town Hall. What I found not convincing is the need to do the project. The report says some of the systems are in fair condition rather than good but only because of their age, not because of their condition.”
As previously reported in The Bedford Citizen, utility rebates will lower the final cost and the newer system is expected to achieve long-term energy savings.
Selectman Margot Fleischman reported that the Community Preservation Committee plans to have more discussion on the project and the potential use of CPC funds at their January meeting.
The Selectmen approved unanimously a motion to complete the design documents but not to go to bid at this time.