GRAFTON, Mass. – The Board of Selectmen is seeking support from the School Committee for a proposed $4.5 million overhaul of the Municipal Center, a project that would be paid in part by surplus funds and energy savings from the new Grafton High School.
If the proposal sounds familiar, that's no accident: the plan is a more tightly focused version of the Honeywell energy savings project that failed at a special town meeting earlier this year.
"I'm almost glad it didn't pass," Selectman John Dowling told the School Committee Monday night. "It gave us the opportunity to look at the issue a little closer."
Specifically, it allowed the town to complete a structural study of the Municipal Center, which served as Grafton's high school in 1950 and converted to town offices in 1983. The study, completed in May by MVA Engineering Company of Shrewsbury, determined the building is structurally sound but in need extensive repairs to its heating/cooling system, leaking windows and roof and brickwork.
"We're pushing for this project because we don't want a larger liability later on," Dowling said.
The project would also include about $1.7 million in repairs to school boilers, bringing the total project to just under $5.3 million.
Replacing the building entirely would cost about $11 million. What Town Administrator Tim McInerney is proposing is a project that he said will repair the existing structure without raising the tax rate using:
- $1 million in surplus funds from the $73 million Grafton High School construction;
- $1 million in stabilization funds plus $50,000 through a town meeting warrant article;
- $219,000 from a utility rebate from the new high school;
- $111,395 from a utility rebate;
- Savings and credits of $75,000 from the Follette Street solar project and $268,679 in utility reductions.
"This is no longer an energy project," Selectman Chairperson David Ross said. "This is a capital project."
Selectmen will hold three public forums before town meeting to educate voters about the proposal. The School Committee agreed to add discussion about the project to its upcoming meetings.