Board of Selectmen recommends Town Administrator moves forward with building shuffling

Aug 23, 2022

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night to recommend that Town Administrator Derek Sullivan move forward on his proposal to move around town departments between the Multi-Service Center, Town Hall and the now-vacant Decas school building.

Two weeks ago, Sullivan first proposed repurposing the three buildings in a shuffle where the Decas school would house town departments and the Council on Aging, the Multi-Service Center would become a community center hub and the police department would relocate to Town Hall.

The proposal has been met with praise and criticism from different groups. On Tuesday, the Select Board praised Sullivan’s plan, which they said would be financially prudent and check off a lot of asks residents have made to the town in recent months. 

Others, like advocates of the proposal to turn the old Decas building into a community center, have questioned why Sullivan’s proposal came after committees had already spent months researching the feasibility of a Decas community center.

Finding a new place for the police department to call home has been the task of the Police Building Study Committee for more than a year.

When the committee met on Monday, a day before the Select Board’s unanimous recommendation, members voted to whittle down its site search to two properties: the Decas school and Town Hall.

When study committee members asked Police Chief Walter Correia to share his thoughts on the Town Hall proposition, he said that the financial responsibility of the idea “has Wareham written all over it.”

The pros of the police station being located in a renovated Town Hall include the fact that the space fulfills the department’s square footage needs, and renovating the already existing building would likely cut the project’s cost down significantly, members said.

The cons of the proposed site stem mainly from Town Hall’s location: There’s little room for future expansion, the proposed site plan leaves no room for emergency medical services or fire services and the parking lots could get busy during school drop-off/pick-up times, study committee members discussed in Monday’s meeting.

Some of those problems could be remedied by using nearby land to build other parking areas or wings onto Town Hall, but that would add to costs.

Still, the plan was praised by the Police Building Study Committee for its financial sense.

Now, the Town Administrator has the board’s blessing to move forward with his proposal after Tuesday night’s meeting.

“I guess you have heard us, Mr. Sullivan,” board chair Judith Whiteside said after the vote.