The Scituate Harbor Community Building, formerly known as Pier 44, will be significantly updated by December, but access to the building is still up for debate.
Selectmen discussed the slew of upgrades happening to the building at a meeting on Tuesday night, saying they were eager to get the building ready for public use.
“We’ve waited way too long to get this building to use and everyone on this board gets questions on it every month,” said Selectman Tony Vegnani. “The whole town thinks we’re behind schedule…the quicker we can get people using it, the more value we’ll get out of the property.”
The building has received $40,000 in upgrades, including renewed pluming to the bathrooms near the front hallway. Work to update the mirrors and lighting is ongoing.
The roof will be completed by early next week, and soon interior sheet rock repair, mold remediation, and painting will begin. All that work should wrap up by the end of November, said Scituate Facilities Manager Kevin Kelly.
Kelly added that carpentry upgrades, some electrical upgrades, and food prep updates to add a sink and small fridge will be done by early December.
“I’m hoping to have the entire space ready by Dec 14,” Kelly said. “…If things aren’t done by then, it may be some work in the food area, so we’ll be able to still go and start using the space.”
The back space of the building will also house the office of the new Manager of Social Services for the Council on Aging and the FACTS Coordinator, who was hired as part of the $625,000 grant the Town received.
Despite the updates to the community building, Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi pushed officials to develop a usage plan.
“We get many requests and we need to be clear at the staff level if there will be waivers or rental fees,” she said.
Selectmen said they would discuss the issue at their next scheduled meeting on Nov. 26.
In the meantime, the building is getting frequent use by the Council on Aging, which will have their holiday dinner there in mid-December. Hopes are high to allow other groups access to the building throughout the holiday season.
“[We] haven’t said no to any groups yet,” Kelly said.
The updates are part of bigger plans for the facility, which was purchased with $1.8 million in MBTA mitigation funds in 2010.
At Scituate Town Meeting in early November, town officials said they were looking into changing the use restrictions on the property, part of a purchase agreement in using MBTA mitigation money for the purchase.
"In August, the Board voted to petition the Legislature to lift the Use Restrictions on the building," Vinchesi said in an email after the meeting. "I attended a meeting with Representative [Jim] Cantwell and a representative from the MBTA to discuss the matter on October 18 and are awaiting further updates from Rep. Cantwell."
Selectmen are also in the process of investigating a long-term plan to turn the building into a permanent community building.
The Town has been working with a Pier 44 Feasibility Study Committee since November 2010 to look at potential uses of the building. The Committee presented its findings to the Board in early 2012, but board members tabled further discussion on a direction in 2013 until a facilities master plan could be created
Vinchesi noted that all this is a long way from where the town initially stood - with a decrepit, run-down facility in need of much TLC.
"The building was left to the town in horrendous condition and among other things it took ten months to clean the debris, remove a hazardous grease situation from the former kitchen area and then be cleaned, painted inside and out and have the second floor and greenhouse area blocked and secured. This work cost about $65,000," Vinchesi said.