JAM SESSION: 5 year plan

Jam session is an opinion forum offering comments on issues from a group of Plymouth residents. It appears on the Forum pages in the Weekend edition of the OCM.

The newspaper poses a question to the group each week, and participants choose whether to comment. This column is designed to bring the voices of well-informed residents into the Forum page to address issues, one at a time.

Participants cross the local political spectrum and live throughout the town. Some are current or past Town Meeting representatives, and all are active in the community. We hope their diverse points of view will encourage discussion of the issues Plymouth faces.

Plymouth Town Hall

This week’s question

The DPW’s Facilities Maintenance Division is nearing completion of a five-year forecast on what the town needs to do to take care of its 32 buildings and how much that will cost. Right now, it looks like the price tag will be in excess of $17 million, with costs starting next year and running through 2026. What do you think of this capital plan?

Bill Abbott

Excellent news! Town Meeting constantly is presented with frustrating examples of too little too late when it comes to maintenance of our town-owned buildings – one by one each sadly neglected building comes before Town Meeting for emergency remedial action, and invariably we see another freshly opened can of worms of deferred maintenance with grim estimates of dramatically escalated repair costs. We sorely need this master plan of maintenance where the detailed futures of our 32 town buildings can be planned and priorities set. Here we see a 5-year plan . . . better still would be a 10-year plan that is followed on schedule instead of waiting for signs of visible impairment. This concept of a long-range plan of building maintenance should be detailed in our Town Charter. Just like the charter requires a master plan for zoned development, we need a master plan of maintenance. But any “master plan,” whether for development or building maintenance, must be adhered to, and if it isn’t, we have a profound failure of the charter – a key question for a future charter commission is how to get compliance with what the charter states as a requirement. That would be a major fix!

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