Selectmen unanimously voted at a joint meeting with the Permanent Building Committee Oct. 30 “to request that the Permanent Building Committee work with the Town Manager with respect to gaining an understanding of the process and cost required for a full feasibility study of the re-use of the Center School site and building, and that the Permanent Building Committee and the Town Manager’s office work with Town Counsel to understand the process by which a project or feasibility study could be brought to Town Meeting in the spring of 2019.”
The joint meeting was requested by the board after a presentation by the Center School Re-Use Advisory Team Sept. 25. At that meeting, selectmen voted to accept the report and recommendations of the Re-Use Advisory Team, but wanted to obtain input from the Permanent Building Committee before making final decisions about the future of Center School.
“We looked at their report and I think they did a good job of getting public involvement and trying to figure out what to do with that building,” said Permanent Building Committee Chair Dan McIntyre. “I think that they came to the right conclusion that it is a good building to save for the town.”
Selectmen Chair Claire Wright agreed that the re-use team had done a good job, but pointed out that their role was to focus on town needs and concerns and that the next step was to determine what was practical and how to proceed.
Brian Herr supported the decision to save the building, but argued that the decision to do so had not yet been made.
“What is the process?” asked Herr.
John Coutinho wanted to know what was practical given the age of the building and the amount of work needed and, as the discussion continued, Town Manager Norman Khumalo revealed that some of that work had already been done by an architectural firm hired by the town.
McIntyre said his committee would need a prioritization of all proposed uses and Center School Re-use Advisory Team Chair Rick Flannery said that his group had done no ranking, but only identified the needs and recommended that the building remain in municipal use.
Now, with the support of the selectmen, the Permanent Building Committee will begin its work, starting with a review of the existing report. A member of the Center School Re-use Advisory Team will be appointed as a liaison as the process and cost for a full feasibility study is considered. A target date of spring 2019 was set.