To the Editor: At a recent Selectboard meeting, it was announced that we were completing the Town Hall project in "phases." This does not mean we are neglecting to do aspects of this project. This is rather a change in the project's "order of operations." The project was always intended to be done in a phased approach. The original plan was that the first phase was moving the Schoolhouse. Then, the modular would be done as a second phase to the project.
The change that has occurred, which was a decision of the project management team, is that instead of moving the Schoolhouse first, it would be last step in the project.
The reason for choosing this order of operations was based on availability of the building mover, who is also our excavator. Many contractors are struggling because of the labor shortage. Our building mover is committed to the move of the Schoolhouse in spring 2022 at the same price as we have budgeted for.
We will be able to procure a temporary certificate of occupancy for just the modular portion (which is where all the offices will be...the Schoolhouse is only a meeting space). This means that as soon as the modular is done and we receive the certificate of occupancy, town operations can move to the new building. This will be by the end of this calendar year.
To reiterate, this is not an abandonment of the project, but rather a change in the timeline and order of construction. These are common types of decisions made in large-scale construction projects.
This is in no way a violation of what the townspeople voted on. The ballot article did not specify that project tasks must be completed in any particular order. After nearly 20 years of waiting for a new Town Hall, excavation beginning on Thursday (July 22), the foundation being poured shortly thereafter, the modular being delivered at the end of August (set date Aug. 31), town staff moving into their new offices (by end of 2021) and then completing the move of the Schoolhouse in spring of next year, we will have achieved the complete project in approximately a year from voter approval. As I have said before, this is an accomplishment, not a failure.
I encourage anyone with any questions about this project, or any other town business, to reach out to me directly. If I don't know the answer to your questions, I will direct you to those who do know. The best place to get information about town issues are directly from those who work on them day in and day out. Conjecture is rarely truth, and in a small town can be incredibly dangerous to the success of large projects, small projects, and daily operations. I can be emailed at email@example.com. If you would like to have a phone call, email me and I will send you my cell number.
The writer is town agent for Pownal.