Scituate officials will make appointments to a newly formed Public Facilities Master Plan Steering Committee sometime this month to help facilitate the design of a new Town Hall, middle school, and public safety facility.
According to selectmen Chairman Joseph Norton, the committee is close to being formulated, with two members being appointed by the School Committee, one from the Council on Aging, one from the Library Board of Trustees, one from the Recreation Commission, one from Public Safety, and an at large member from the general public.
The Board of Selectmen will also appoint eight members to the board, including a member from the Economic Development Commission, the Commission on Disabilities, and the Planning Board.
A member representing the town’s business community will also be appointed, selectmen said, with the newly established facilities director serving as an ex-officio member of the committee.
The Public Building Commission will also have a liaison to the Steering Committee.
“We have close to what we’re looking for now. I don’t know if it's on next Tuesday’s agenda to make appointments or not, if not it will be on the next [agenda],” Norton said.
A total of 15 people will be on the board, and will mostly determine how the town’s Master Plan moves forward.
“This committees’ goal will be representing the different groups and different stakeholders, and making sure they have what the need,” Norton said. “For example, representatives from Council on Aging will be there to make sure the Council on Aging facility has everything the council needs – parking, privacy rooms, etc. Same with recreation. So I think these people will be stakeholders in the process, and they will be lobbying or advocating for their particular group.”
Having so many stakeholders on the committee will also help allay fears of what the new facility might look like.
“Part of the reason [is] to bring everyone together on the same page to move forward and to have the input as to what goes in there.The actual nuts and bolts, oversight of construction, will be public buildings commission, as it always has been,” Norton said.
Although the groups will be detailing what needs to go into a new Town Hall, which is currently proposed to be a retooled Gates Middle School, the Steering Committee will not be a part of the initial building design selection, which again will be under the Building Commission’s purview.
As the committee is formed, the town continues to move forward with other aspects of the master plan, including requesting funds for an initial study of the town’s needs – educationally and public safety wise – at November’s Special Town Meeting.
Final numbers will be available within a week; however, the appropriation request currently looks to be in the $600,000-$750,000 range, Norton said.
Although Norton wasn’t concerned about this most recent request for funding being passed at Town Meeting, as the town can most likely use existing funds, overall he senses there are mixed feelings about the project.
“People are very supportive, they recognize the need for new facilities, both in the school and the town side, but they also are apprehensive because everything comes with a cost,” he said.
“I think at Town Meeting, there is very little doubt in my mind that it will be supported at Town Meeting.I think the question will come on the ballot – as we go through the process, it will be well vetted out and well discussed and everyone will make an intelligent decision.”