Center District Discussion on Tap

The center business district and the old middle school have been the subject of countless meetings over the past couple of years, and then it seemed that, as the town managers changed and the members of the Town Council changed that the price tag on an infrastructure project went from $4 million to $12 million. People heard the word “debt-exclusion” override and started to raise questions.

The center project will be the topic during a special meeting of the Town Council on April 3 at 7 p.m. in the Winthrop High School auditorium.

During Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting, Councilor Mike Lucerto asked for an audit, a quick review so the taxpayers can be assured of how their money is being spent.

“I think about how we inherited this, and I think the public needs some reassurance that we know what we’re doing,” Lucerto said.

During the meeting, DPW Director Steve Calla gave the best explanation of what happened to the center project. He said quite frankly that the scope of the original idea has grown and that’s what has driven the projected cost up.

He said he’s in favor of any peer review or audit.

He explained that the project plans began in 2008 as a sewer and infrastructure project, and he noted work done on Woodside Avenue. Then developers interested in the center said the infrastructure wouldn’t support their plans.

“How did we get here?” Calla asked. “Because as the scope increases so does the cost.”

On top of work in the center the old middle school got dragged into the plans. There was a master plan and input from the community and the council. A landscape architect was brought in for French Square, traffic patterns were rearranged, “And we kept adding things,” he said, adding that this is not a DPW project.

“We’ve inherited this from a previous administration,” Calla said.

Councilor James Letterie said, “all of this would be addressed at the forum on April 3 before we do anything.”

“We need to figure out why and how we got here,” said Councilor Heather Engman, who agreed with Lucerto

In other business:

  • Unless directed otherwise Town Manager Terry Delehanty said the town ferry service will begin again on April 16.
  • Precinct 5 resident John Vitagliano asked the council to consider opening Town Hall for at least a half day on Fridays so business can be conducted. It was a noted that Town Hall is open until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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