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Selectmen chose preliminary layout for a new Town Hall

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  February 6, 2013 04:58 PM

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Town of Scituate

Plans to transform the existing middle school into a town hall were chosen by Selectmen on Tuesday night.

Scituate selectmen have chosen a preliminary design for turning Gates Intermediate School into Town Hall, and the town now is working on a cost estimate.

In a vote Tuesday night, selectmen voted for drawings that include a senior center on the first floor of the west wing of the building, archive storage in the back of the building, a gym and community center on the second floor, and town offices spread throughout.

The plans, which only lay out where certain spaces would be in the building and do not go into detail, also show the demolition of the eastern wing of the building, or the C-wing, which does not have a foundation and was added to the building in 1956.

From here, engineers will work to see how much the renovation may cost.

“[Our architects are] focused on overall footprint and getting an accurate cost per square foot, because that’s what really is going to help us determine what the overall cost impact is going to be,” said Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi.

The town is looking for feedback on the current direction throughout the process with help from a Steering Committee, comprised of numerous stakeholders including the Council on Aging, Recreation Department, School Department, and more.

According to Vinchesi, the group will start to review the preliminary plans and bring back comments from their respective groups.

“Our goal is to make people as informed as possible with the understanding that we’re still developing this information,” Vinchesi said.

The update is only the next step in a complicated and extensive master plan process that envisions three major components: turning Gates school into a Town Hall building; building a public safety facility on the corner of Mann Lot and Route 3A; and receiving Massachusetts School Building Authority help to build a middle school at the site of the existing Town Hall.

Superintendent John McCarthy did not return calls for comment. However, Vinchesi said that a committee has been appointed for a feasibility study on a new middle school.

Once the town receives the go-ahead from the state, the town will begin the process. That study will determine next steps for the school, and will be the true marker of how fast the entire project will move.

“The goal is to present a comprehensive plan to voters at fall Town Meeting that is driven by what the recommendation is for the school,” Vinchesi said.

Along those lines, the town is ramping up the third piece of the project – the public safety facility overhaul.

Scituate will use $175 from the $375,000, appropriated at the previous Town Meeting, to conduct a schematic design and engineering for a public safety building.

The town plans to go out to bid for engineers sometime next week. Police and fire chiefs are also preparing building assessments of the current spaces to outline the risks and challenges the departments currently face.

At the same time, the Public Building Commission is meeting regularly on all aspects of the project to continually try to pull things together.

The process is a comprehensive and complicated one, Vinchesi said, but the town still has eight months to coordinate before going to the town with a solid plan.

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