WILMINGTON, MA — Town Manager Jeff Hull recently announced his intention to propose a warrant article for the 2020 Annual Town Meeting to fund a feasibility study and schematic design for a new joint Town Hall and School Administration Building. The cost, estimated at $955,000, would come from the town’s free cash reserves.
Hull noted a joint Town Hall and School Administration Building, along with a new Senior Center, were identified as the town’s top building priorities by Wilmington’s 2018 Facilities Master Plan.
In a memo to the Board of Selectmen, Hull highlighted some of the deficiencies with the current Town Hall and School Administration Building:
- The Roman House is a 4,498 square foot Victorian home constructed in 1900. It’s space is not conducive for use as the School Department’s central administration building. Due to space constraints, administrative personnel — including Student Support Services — must be located in modified classroom areas within the schools. Limited space also creates a challenge for record retention. The building does not have fire suppression systems and is not energy efficient. Individuals with mobility challenges do not have access into the building.
- The Town Hall, formerly the Glen Road School, was constructed in 1959. Since June 1984, the school has been re-purposed as a “temporary” Town Hall. The building has limited meeting and record retention space and inadequate meeting space. The auditorium, the school’s former gym, has challenging acoustics. The building’s single pane windows do not retain heat in the winter and the heat distribution system leaves some offices stifling while other offices have inadequate heat. Accessibility issues also exist in part of the building.
Hull outlined some of the benefits combining a School Administration and Town Hall would reap, including:
- Take advantage of shared “economies.” (i.e., meeting rooms would be accessible to both administrations)
- Foster collaboration in many areas and between several departments (i.e., human resources)
- one less building — and building systems — for the Public Buildings Department to maintain
Hull also stressed the current Town Hall will likely serve as a barrier to the town’s efforts to address its facility needs.
“The Town Hall site is under consideration for multiple uses, including the potential site of a future senior center,” according to Hull. “It’s going to be difficult to locate another building here, while we have an active Town Hall here…. It’s going to be problematic to put another facility here unless we’re looking at eliminating the fields in the back.”
If Town Meeting voters approve the article, the Town would use the funds to hire an Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) to represent the town during the design and construction phases, and hire an architect to provide schematic design services. The resulting feasibility study would identify the best site to build a new joint Town Hall and School Administration Building and the estimated cost for such construction.
Hull will provide more details around his proposal during his FY21 budget presentation at the Board of Selectmen Meeting on Monday, January 27, 2020 at 7pm at Town Hall.
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