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8 Takeaways From Last Night’s DPW Info Session

On Monday, Jeff Alberti, VP of Weston & Sampson Engineers, presented the final concept for the shared DPW/School Maintenance Facility that will be brought to voters at October Special Town Meeting. Alberti answered resident and board member questions and gave estimated timelines for when construction could get underway.

Here are top takeaways from the presentation along with the deck presented. Residents can also watch the approximately one-hour program now on Tewksbury TV.

The Tewksbury Community Pantry is staying put. While there was discussion of incorporating space for the pantry in the new facility, that idea has been scrapped. The plan now is to keep the pantry in its current location, saving the cost of moving it.

All town vehicles can use the new wash bay. In response to a question from Select Board member Mark Kratman, Town Manager Richard Montuori said that Tewksbury Police and Fire Department vehicles can use the wash bay, which is built to recycle water and provide undercarriage washes to remove salt and other chemicals. The renovated bay will cost $700,000 to $800,000 versus $1.1 million to build new.

The investment in renovating the current building is limited. There is a a bid alternate that, if feasible, would move staff offices into the new construction. But should offices need to stay in the old building, the town will spend only enough to bring the staff area up to code from a sprinkler, fire/egress safety, mechanical and ADA perspective and to improve insulation and roofing. In response to a question from Planning Board member Vinny Fratalia, Alberti says that is by design because, in the future, the old building could be demolished and a replacement built without losing significant investment.

Energy cost savings are estimated to be in the 20% to 35% range. A “superinsulation” building envelope will be installed, and the roof is photovoltaic ready, so that the town can seek grants to take advantage of solar power. There are also high-efficiency mechanical systems, infrastructure for EV power bays and more windows to reduce reliance on artificial lighting.

About 50 people will work in the new facility. Forty are town side, 10 are School Department. All School Department resources will be in the new building, which will include workshops and offices as well as vehicle and equipment storage, said Alberti. One key item is the addition of locker rooms and showers for staff, who often deal with hazardous materials. In response to a question from Planning Board member Jim Duffy, Alberti confirmed that these will be in the new building. He also said the design is expandable to accommodate about 10% new growth via mezzanine space that can be easily converted.

All town vehicles will now be able to be stored inside. This will protect the town’s fleet. The storage building will be kept at about 40 degrees so diesel engines will start without needing heaters. In response to a question from Anne Marie Stronach, chair of the Elementary School Building Committee, Alberti said that a second bid alternate could allow for more storage of first responder/critical vehicles closer to the main employee area.

The cost has been reduced from a high of $37,363,000 in May 2021 to $27,997,000. That includes a $4,770,000 contingency and $500,000 to cap an area where tree stumps were dumped. Expected completion would be March 2025.

Three separate votes will be taken on this project. Articles 3 and 4 will be decided by a simple majority while Article 5 requires a 2/3 majority because it authorizes borrowing. Of note, Montuori said interest rates have gone from under 2% to about 3.4% since the project started. He also stated that the town will not borrow funds that will require future debt service until he is confident finances can support it, and that if the bids come in higher than expected, the project would be put on hold.

Download and check out the plan, below. The concept to be voted on on Oct. 3 is on Page 25.

Lorna is a 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.

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