Friday, February 26, 2010

Taking care of our buildings

On Thursday, February 25th, the Capital Improvement Planning Committee (CIPC) presented a comprehensive study to Sandwich’s Board of Selectmen (BOS) which details the condition of our town-owned buildings and the steps necessary to bring them up to snuff.

The study was managed by Rider Levett Bucknall, an international construction cost consulting firm. CIPC members and town staff made a huge effort gathering information for the study, concluding that more than $25 million would be required to correct all of the identified issues.

Then the CIPC prioritized the list, culling it down to between $5.5 and $6.2 million, depending on the steps taken on the town hall annex. Rankings were made based on the following criteria:

1) Is the building critical?
2) Degree of structural/functional integrity
3) Safety concerns

See the presentation by clicking here.

Now the BOS and ultimately the town’s voters, at both town meeting and the ballot box, need to determine if the town should borrow these millions of capital dollars by issuing a ten-year bond. The average house (about $380,000) would be taxed about $70/year, a little more in year one and a little less in year ten.

This override of Proposition 2½ is called a debt exclusion and differs from an operating override in that the additional taxation on real estate bills would be for ten years, then stop. An operating override, like a diamond, is forever.

Public input is critical and I encourage people to come to our meetings, mail, email, call us, and leave comments here on this blog.

Copyright 2010 Randy Hunt


  1. Randy:
    This is an important matter and deserves lots of careful thought and discussion. Here are a few initial questions/observations that came to my mind:
    1. Can and should we explore relocating town offices in a new, centrally located facility as opposed to pouring dollars into older, less-serviceable structures? Why not examine the cost/benefits?
    2. Why not let Town Meeting approve each project individually? This way, taxpayers get to opine on whether a building (or Dept.) is really critical. This worked well for the Town Hall project.
    3. Taxpayers in town are losing their homes and choosing between food and medicines. Is now really the time to increase taxes, fees, etc?
    4. The town’s operating budget is in deficit and will be there for a while. Is it prudent to repair a building if next year we will have to lay off the folks who work in it?

  2. The time for the Sandwich Municipal Complex is here. Putting renovation dollars into obsolete, ill suited, out of code (bulding codes, I'll get to that in a moment)flood plain buildings is wrong. Do town buildings need repairs? Of course but renovating these buildings is akin to saying, "If I had to do it over again this is exactly where I would put this building and design it the same way." That simply is not the case. also, Sandwich just can't pick and choose what renovations it would like to conduct. Building code laws dictate "All or nothing" During a renovation the complete building has to come up to code. Plus there are Histroric District concerns. Do you think there will be a set of stairs approved for the second means of egress at the FD? Not if the HD has anything to say about it. One stop shopping for all town services and functions. 911 dispatch, permitting, records, meetings, school dept, town wide maintenance all in one location..............or dump money into a proven inefficient method of governance fragmented throughout the town. These are hardly new ideas. What would be new is acting on what everybody knows what needs to be done.

  3. I wouldn't recommend spending a lot of money to repair buildings in a salt marsh, where they really don't belong in the first place. We need to be making real progress toward relocating these things.

    (No, I don't know how...)

  4. Michelle SullivanMarch 5, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    Mr Hunt,I strongly agree with everything Mr. Guerin has stated and would like to see him on this board. I think the answers are obvious here. This is taxpayer money, item by item let us decide which building maintenance we would choose to pay for or opt to sell off. I have also thought about keeping our town offices at Oak Crest and moving the annex crew in there as well. With a little cash for some interior partitioning and another parking area we could have all of our important eggs in a centralized basket. We could use our new town hall in the village for meetings of boards and committees etc. The trash issue is also alarming to the taxpayer in Sandwich. I for one am all for green how-ever please, I don't want to feel this pinch weekly at Stop n Shop when tomatoes are $3.00 a piece find us a pickup service and recycle my trash and add that to my tax bill.

  5. Good Afternoon MR. Hunt Some where along lifes path I have heard the voices from the wise and learned among us that One should cut the losses before the losses bury us.
    If placing good money into any project will not result in a positive investment for the people and town at large, it should be rethought on how the money gets to be spent. If that means closing down non cost affective buildings and consoladating into affective municiple services it should be done in my opinion. We have the buildings presently in Sandwich where closing down the old bank and selling the building makes more common sense then keeping it open. Why spend good money, that is needed elsewhere to keep an outdated building open that is no longer a viable part of town governement. Will spending almost a million dollars to do surface repairs be a wise investment, given the present state of our financial needs here in Sandwich?

    It may be a hard chioce for some to make, but when you consider the alternatives it really should be well though out to eliminate and sell it for the betterment of the whole town from both sides of the financial problems we all face as a community.

    Carl Johansen

  6. Good day all

    I agree that the old bank is not the most productive use of taxpayer money, however, I also thing that maybe we should try to go over the alternatives. Move the people there to Oak Crest Cove. What is the cost in terms of taxpayer dollars and also in terms of what now happans with what would have happened with Oak Crest Cove.

  7. Good evening Mr. Hunt I believe the present staff should stay in place at Oak Crest Cove, for the most part. Moving those from the town clerks and tax assesors on the other hand would make more sensible to me. The fact that parking for customers is a problem One department could be transferred to the new town hall and the other to Jan Sebastion. The building at Jan Sebastion has two rooms that could be better utilized and moving the Natural resource department to one of the empty buildings at Oak Crest would provide all the space to accomidate those that become disenfranchised. What ever the decision the annex on Main should be closed and sold and the money from the sale should be used to support all of the capital projects needed with in the town,including the school buildings. The same can be said for the old Superintendends house that over looks the marsh.

    Carl Johansen

  8. Good evening Mr. Hunt (If the CPA folks can determine that using cpa money for the library roof is a good cause for historic reasons then one should be able to get some money from the same resourtce for the Wing School. The Wing School is the original one and first High school building built on Cape Cod In the early 1900's. In case any one may be attending Harvard college from Sandwich, they may be eligable for a grant. Thanks to the Wing family.
    This may be still available, so it is recommended that any senior look into this situation to see if this account is still active today.

    Carl Johansen

  9. Fixing buildings, building buildings and all this kind of stuff. I am tired that while we are discussing tremendous deficits in our future a tough budget for 2011 we are now being hit with buildings and their disrepair. I knew that when the school buildings were just about paid off we will again tax ourselves for more. Mr. Johansen, if you really think your right about everything, then by all means, run for office. You won't by telling us that you serve a better purpose. Can you imagine another 22,000 gadflys? We would accomplish nothing. Well I guess that would not be different from what is happening now. We have a selectman running this year who when she was chairman of the board did nothing about a long range plan and now, after it was accomplished by another Chairman, she brags in public about how the board, of which she is a member has done so much. This is Sandwich at its best!

  10. Randy did my responce get to you?


  11. Yes, Carl, but you posted your response to Solving Our Town's Problems; not here. I'm managing this blog with my cell phone right now, so the recent posts list is not being updated.

  12. Good Morning Mr. Hunt, Normally I have not made efforts to repond to those that fail to use at least some personal name other then ANONYMOUS. In the above case however I will make an exception.
    First off, please do not think for one moment that I have all the answers to our problems here in Sandwich, because I do not and I have so indicated that many times over the years. What I do offer is a different non political insite as to how things could be done in a different prospective that in some cases asks more questions on how we all need to look at what are future town will look like. No one person is perfect. Over the years I have lived here and the many years I camped and fished here I have established a little insite into how this town works. I may have only lived in this great town for 14 or so years, but I have camped and fished here for over 60. That is why I chose to retire here when the time came for me to do so. I had that decision made for me as a youngster from Roxbury. My friend and I began to ask questions upon are arrival as to how we could assist the town in finding more cash to help the bottom line. It was a small start, but we were successful in making a change to how money being paid to the Marina Account for winter storage on Town owned property was not going into the general account for the town, but rather staying in the marina account. Had we not known that this property was given to the town and was not owned by the Army Corp, this winter storage fee would still be part of the Marina budget and not part of the towns general budget today. This has resulted in a increase of close to a million dollars over the years since the chnage was made that all fees generated on the upper parking lot at the harbor now all go for the benifit of the whole town and not just for marina upkeep.
    The next time consumming event was convincing the powers to be that seperating the copper, brass, alumunum from the metel discards would have a positive effect upon the bottom line as these commodities would generate enough cash flow to augument the budget for operating the transfer station. By instituting a policy whereby no one could no longer pick the metel pile the town could reap the total benifit of this valuable resource. Not only did this increase the efficinecy of the workers [ as they also could not pick while our tax dollars were paying there salary]The town has derived another source of revenue to the bottom line. Many hours of time were spent in both projects,in the case of the transfer station it was not until Mr. Tilton the present DPW director had the time to listen to our proposal
    and understood the full impact of this revenue source as a win win situation for the town and implimented a policy that since has generated countless needed dollars to our budget.

    One does not need to be an elected official of the great town of Sandwich in order to provide a postive impact on how things get done here. Just think if the other 21998 gad flys had the same dedication to helping our fair town where we might be?

    Carl Johansen

  13. Bob Guerin's arguments above are right on target. These projects should be viewed as to whether or not they are in the best interests of the town. Nice job Bob. Once again you have proven why you are a leader.


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