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.
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?
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!
Bill Abbott is a lawyer with a general practice in Boston, and is past president of the Wildlands Trust and Six Ponds Association. He chaired the charter commission that wrote Plymouth’s current charter and chaired the Committee of Precinct Chairs from 2005 to June 2008. He has been a Town Meeting Member since 1974.
The facilities plan is necessary. A lot of the projects are catching up from years of neglect. It is a start. A longer-term plan should be in the works for such a large and growing town as Plymouth, not only for facilities but also for infrastructure. Plymouth needs vision in long term strategic planning. Thank you to Nick Hill for getting the ball rolling.
Pat Adelmann has been a Plymouth resident since 1977 and is a mother of five Plymouth Public School graduates, a proud grandmother of 12, a former School Committee member and a former Town Meeting representative.
It is a plan that is completely subject to change. With a “projected” price tag of “in excess of 17 million,” I will tell you that I will give a “projected price of in excess of 25 million.” We all know how government projects work. Don’t forget that the “projected” price of the Big Dig was approximately 1-1/2 billion. Last I knew it is approximately 20 billion.
Having said that, I am glad that the town is finally giving maintenance of our property the priority that it should have.
If we don’t have the money to keep up with the maintenance of a building, then we shouldn’t build it to start with. I hope that Town Meeting keeps this in mind and that the citizens of Plymouth do also, especially when presented with a 2-1/2 override to build someone’s pet project.
Jay Beauregard, born and raised in Plymouth, served four years in the Marine Corps and has worked for 40 years at a local company. He is a Libertarian who served three terms as a Town Meeting rep from Precinct 6.
I’m no “bean counter” (I’m a writer), but my hunch is that the final figure could perhaps hit $24 million, given the fact that we don’t know what we don’t know. The reality is that it doesn’t matter – this stuff is all pressing and I’m looking forward to the town getting on with all of it. Much of this is long overdue.
A Plymouth resident for more than 40 years, Jeff Berger is founder and owner of JMB Communications / websitesthatworkusa.com and everythingsxm.com as well as Northeast Ambassador for SkyMed International, www.skymed.com/jmb, He is a former chairman of Plymouth’s Nuclear Matters Committee and its Cable Advisory Committee.
As we’ve already learned, it always costs more when buildings are not maintained. I’m sure plenty of time, energy and expertise was put into coming up with a comprehensive plan that will amply satisfy the needs of the town. Good job!
Karen Buechs was a Town Meeting representative and served as chair of Precinct 7. She sat on the Manomet Steering Committee, Manomet Village Common Inc., Capital Outlay Committee and the Revenue Idea Task Force. She also served as Charter Commission member and on three Charter Review Committees. Karen has been a resident of Plymouth for 46 years.
The five year capital plan seems to be a good start.
I am concerned about a new police station along with all the new fire stations (which are not included in the plan, ???).
A consultant in police and fire management recently told me that Plymouth has the staffing and resources equal to most cities in New England. Yet we don’t have a city form of government. This is an expensive way to run a community of 65,000 citizens. Again, town meeting has failed to protect us.
Many communities have turned to a public safety structure with police and fire located together in a shared building, a huge savings for the residents. The money recently authorized by town meeting should be used to study the feasibility of a public safety building.
Planning is good as long as long as it’s not tainted with the politics that seem to dominate our town government.
Rick Caproni is a Town Meeting representative from Precinct 15, a retired equipment leasing executive and a self described political activist.
The town has left building maintenance on the back burner for many years. Unfortunately, this means that the costs will be astronomical to play catch-up. In the long run it’s the right thing to do. We’ve seen way too many town owned buildings destroyed from lack of preventative maintenance. I’m a little disappointed that it’s only a five year plan. We should be planning for the long term. As a Town Meeting member, I’m in support of this long overdue study and in support of protecting our investments for the long term. I hope that all grant opportunities will be explored to help offset what we know will be a series of large expenditures to make this right.
Mike Landers is a Town Meeting representative and is the founder and producer of Project Arts of Plymouth. He is also the owner of Nightlife Music Company and is a performing musician.
Read More: JAM SESSION: 5 year plan