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Scituate officials look to Special Town Meeting to fund Master Plan studies

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 20, 2012 04:24 PM

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Scituate town officials are looking to analyze what would be necessary to renovate and reconfigure several major town facilities with funding they hope to procure from Special Town Meeting on Nov. 13.

In particular, the estimated $500,000, a figure which is still preliminary and subject to change, would spell out what the needs would be for a renovated or new middle school and analyze what it would take to build a new fire and police station.

The studies are part of the town’s Master Plan effort, which hopes to transform the existing Gates Middle School into a renovated Town Hall and senior center, rebuild a school on the lot of the current Town Hall, and establish a public safety complex with a new fire station and police station.

Town officials have been working toward this plan since 2011, after the town authorized a $65,000 Community Preservation-funded study to assess the structural integrity of Gates school.

In April of this year, officials also requested and received $375,000 to continue that work.

According to Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi, the town used $15,000 of that money to complete the structural assessment on Gates, which not only analyzed what would need to be renovated at the school, but how existing Town Hall programs might fit into the building.

Although those findings will be presented in depth at the selectmen’s meeting on Oct. 2, according to Vinchesi there are three different proposals for how the school is divvied up.

“It’s very preliminary,” Vinchesi said. “We’re going to appoint a steering committee at the Oct. 2 meeting as stakeholders in the process to work with public building commission in designing Gates school for future use.”

In the meantime, there is $360,000 remaining from the 2012 Town Meeting appropriation that may be put towards the educational improvement plan, an estimated $750,000 study that will analyze the educational needs of all the schools, which buildings are in need of repair, and possible solutions. The finished plan will play an integral role in Scituate’s effort to receive Massachusetts School Building Authority reimbursement for a school project.

Superintendent John McCarthy, who is heading up discussions with the MSBA, was not immediately available for comment. However, Vinchesi said that in order to get in line for funding, the study would be necessary.

To complete the study, town officials might ask for the whole amount, but spoke at a meeting on Tuesday of requesting the approximately $390,000 difference during the Nov. 13 meeting. At the same time, the town will request approximately $125,000 to analyze a possible public safety complex.

Vinchesi applauded selectmen for their work with all the studies and for addressing the public facility needs, which hasn’t been done in almost a decade, she said.

“Less folks think it’s 8-10 years away for a decision on a Master Plan, we’re moving quickly. We have the Gates stuff in place…and we will be moving on the educational component and public safety,” Vinchesi said.

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