2017-02-02 / Princeton News

Advisory Committee approves $531K worth of requests for 2018

By Phyllis Booth

The advisory committee is supporting several capital improvement requests for 2018, including $150,000 for fire alarms and safety in town buildings, including town hall, Princeton Center, the library (which is compliant) and the town hall annex. Putting in one system could tie all the buildings together, according to Town Administrator Nina Nazarian.

Fire alarms should meet fire safety standards, said advisory committee chairman John Shipman.

The advisory committee was asked by selectmen to review the capital requests and come back to them with recommendations. At the Jan. 23 selectmen’s meeting, advisory committee members presented its report. In addition to the fire alarms, the committee also supported a request that maintenance of the town hall annex roof, painting and trim work needs to be done. In reality, it may be a number of years before decisions will be made regarding the rehabilitation of the town’s buildings, said Shipman. Required maintenance for the building should be budgeted, he added.

The committee supported spending an estimated $80,000 for two exhaust systems for the town’s fire stations to provide safe working areas.

Shipman said his committee would like more information regarding police vehicles before making a decision about its support. The committee has discussed a four-year replacement schedule but said specific rationale would be helpful. According to the police vehicle report, less than 100,000 miles were driven on all five vehicles, said Shipman.

“You can’t go by mileage, because the motors are running a lot,” said selectman Edith Morgan. “But I’ve read that doesn’t contribute to wear and tear and the vehicles.”

That’s why the committee likes details in writing, so there is an explanation, said Shipman.

No decision was made regarding work on the roof at the public safety building as someone needs to go up in the attic there and take a look at where any leaks are coming in. Select board chairman Stan Moss suggested an engineering firm be hired to look at it.

The advisory committee did approve a request from the highway department for a six-wheel dump truck, spending an estimated $27,500 for roof repairs at the library for leaks causing interior water and insulation issues, and $6,000 for field drainage and fencing at the Thomas Prince School softball field. They questioned whether the parks and recreation revolving fund or user fees could be used to fund the work. “People using the fields should help pay for ongoing maintenance,” said Shipman.

“What if they don’t have the money?” asked Moss. They have two revolving accounts with $13,000 for director’s salary and programs and $13,000 for field maintenance, for lime, fertilizer and aeration that is already spent, said Moss.

Shipman said they don’t expect this to change their plan overnight, but want to consider charging more, “It’s for them to sort out,” he said.

Committee members didn’t make a decision about the vault restoration but did discuss alternatives, such as Iron Mountain which deals with management services with storing, protecting and managing information. Other improvements needed but not included in the list for review are road repair including the Route 31 bridge, repairs at Thomas Prince School, Mechanics Hall and the gazebo roof.

Advisory committee members suggested paying for the approved requests from free cash or the stabilization fund. The 2018 estimated amount for the requests is $531,500.

Unknown are expenses related to a computer system upgrade at the library. The committee recommended a building/capital improvement committee be established with qualified volunteers to review and prioritize building maintenance, apply for state and federal grants for historical buildings.

“We should clone someone like Larry Green who has gotten so much funds and done so much,” said Shipman. It’s important to budget for annual maintenance that is justifiable and also the reality of what can be afforded, he added.

“It’s very different with buildings,” said Morgan. “They are all in such disrepair we almost have to start from the bottom up. The longer we wait, especially with Bagg Hall, the bigger the price tag will be.”

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