Below are summaries of and links (in blue to the full reports from the Facilities Master Plan Committee recommendations, Public Safety Complex Committee, Repurposing Committee, two studies / surveys on Williamsburg services and buildings in the village centers, and the Building Needs Report, which are generally the main reports that are referred to around the Public Safety Complex and the Helen E. James site.
The Facilities Master Plan Committee (FMPC) was established by the Board of Selectmen in 2016 to advise the Board of Selectmen about decisions related to municipal facilities planning, especially the use of the Helen E. James building and parcel in the context of clarifying the vision of the town’s village center. The FMPC offered a final report to the Board of Selectmen in early January 2017.
The three top action items were that the Town continue to make resolving the facility issues of the Police and Fire Departments a priority, retain the Helen E. James building for a future use, and develop a capital plan that includes facility projects and regular maintenance items.
Approach a central theme of the Facilities Master Plan Committee (FMPC) process has been that the town needs to shift its approach to planning, decision-making, resource-allocation and problem-solving to one that is more holistic in nature. Committees should be tasked to think in ways that are interdepartmental and interdisciplinary, that embrace long-term goals and that fully consider broad alternatives so as not to close off future options. It is with this approach that FMPC offers the following summary recommendations.
The physical facilities for public safety departments, including fire, police and emergency operations, require major improvements. These improvements should not be postponed and should be the highest priority projects for the town.
Improvements for the town offices and Council on Aging facilities should be the second highest priority physical projects for the town.
Considering the costs, it is unlikely that the town can undertake a new safety complex while simultaneously moving or completing major improvements in the facilities for the town offices and Council on Aging.
A recent survey has identified resistance by town residents to a new safety complex at the Helen James site. Possible alternatives and/or size and design of the complex should be re-examined.
Town residents indicate concern regarding costs for the new public safety complex. Consider reducing costs with smaller but adequate facilities with capability to expand for future needs, and possibly making better use of existing buildings.
Planning and capital budgeting should be a holistic process that includes expected changes in needs and functions for fire, police, emergency operations, town offices and Council on Aging, and reducing maintenance costs, over the next twenty to forty years, as well as town financial capacity and disposal of surplus properties.
Short term decisions should carefully consider alternatives in an integrated manner to avoid closing off flexibility and ability of the town to meet future and changing needs over the next twenty to forty years.
The Select Board should establish a permanent committee, or task an existing committee, providing professional assistance as needed, for long term oversight of town projects in the area of planning, economic development, and facilities.
Minimize long term investments in the Haydenville Town Offices, with a plan to transition town office and Council on Aging functions to the Helen James building.
The Select Board should approve a budget for all facilities projects for the next twenty to forty years. This budget is likely a minimum of $6-8 million (2017 dollars) over the next ten to twenty years. An approach will be needed for community support, focusing on meeting critical needs and reducing annual maintenance costs
The Public Safety Complex Committee was established in October 2013. The Committee met for two and one-half years and worked with an architect firm Drummey Rosane Anderson (DRA) to detail needs, determine estimated costs and look at various building and sites for a public safety complex. Below are the three main points of the charge to the committee. After extensive work at looking at all possible sites, the Helen E. James site was identified as the best site taking into consideration location, ownership and the flood plain issues. A full copy of the DRA report with cost details and sketches for each of the options may be found at the link above:
Identify what is needed in the building by the Police and Fire Depts. –
What is ideal
What is practical and affordable and necessary for Williamsburg
Determine preliminary design and size of a building – conceptually what is in the building – how many bays, bathrooms, holding area etc.
Identify possible locations for the building -this was further explored in work between December 2015 and June 2016 (addendum).
Building Repurposing Committee - 2015: To the Board of Selectmen
The Building Repurposing Committee was formed in 2013 to look at five Town owned buildings and identifying possible reuse of them. The Committee worked with Colliers to analyze the Town Office building and the Helen E. James. In the end the Repurposing committee recommended that the James be used for market rate or elderly subsidized housing.
This study done in fall of 2017 by Fine Point Associates was done to inform the potential reuse of town-owned properties located in the village centers of Williamsburg and Haydenville by examining existing business conditions, market demand and economic development considerations.
This was a survey done in the summer of 2016 with the support of Healthy Hampshire to help inform the Facilities Master Plan Committee’s work. It asked the community to respond to questions about town services, town owned buildings and the future of the village centers.
This committee documented the conditions and details of all the town owned buildings as of 2010.