China building committee recommends looking ahead

by Mary Grow

At least two members of China’s Municipal Building Committee plan to join chairman Sheldon Goodine at the Nov. 21 China select board meeting, hoping to persuade select board members to see the future through their eyes.

The disagreement between the two boards, as described by several building committee members at their Nov. 10 meeting, is over how far ahead current officials should be planning for future town office space needs.

Also involved is the Presque Isle engineering firm of B. R. Smith Associates (BRSA). Goodine said engineer Keith Whittaker, who has been working with the China committee, plans to join the Nov. 21 meeting.

Building committee members have been meeting for more than a year. Their main focus has been on providing additional safe storage, climate-controlled and fireproof, for the paper records state law requires towns to keep forever.

The ordinary storage space in the office building is also overfull, with paper records, office supplies, voting machines, Christmas decorations and other necessities. Building committee members are not optimistic about the volume decreasing, though they and select board members talked about digitizing records to eliminate some of the paper. Foreseeing increasing needs, they have looked beyond the immediate issue and discussed additional storage and perhaps work space.

Select board members have not been receptive to these more expansive – and expensive – ideas. At the end of the Oct. 24 select board discussion (see The Town Line, Oct. 27, p. 3), board members authorized spending up to $11,000 to have BRSA design a storage vault plus prepare a concept plan for a later addition.

The storage vault, presently proposed as a 12-by-24-foot structure, is fine with building committee members as a first step. Goodine calls it a storage room; select board members referred to it as a building.

The $11,000, and about as much again, is available in the current budget, Goodine said; but there is not enough, without readjustments, to cover detailed plans for a larger addition.

However, building committee members believe that within two or three years town office staff will need more space. They think BRSA should be asked to prepare a comprehensive expansion plan, showing, for example, where another section could be connected and how heating and electrical systems could be extended.

Neither the cost of planning nor the cost of construction is likely to go down, they agreed. Therefore, they think it prudent to have detailed plans ready as soon as the need becomes urgent enough to justify an appropriation of town funds.


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