The Library dust is barely settled. Bridge Street School sits and decays. Major Town Hall renovations are just beginning. Now the Board of Selectmen proposes to undertake a full Fyler Place makeover.
Most would agree that mixed development of that area is highly desirable. It is an economic development idea that is 10 years percolating.
But at what cost?!
Moving the highway garage to 1160 South Street as proposed makes no sense.
1) The building itself is inadequate: it is cigar shaped with interior columns; vehicle entrances are poorly located; the concrete floor can’t support vehicle weights; the roof leaks and has damaged one wall.
2) Entering and exiting a busy Rte. 75, especially at night and in bad weather will be dangerous. The sharp driveway grade will accentuate the problem.
3) Expecting to house some Town personnel in addition to highway employees at the proposed location is false economy. The Town Hall renovation project should certainly house all current personnel; and maybe even allow for some future growth.
4) Going forward negotiating with a sales agent without having fully vetted a developer, apparently as yet unknown, is foolhardy.
5) The cost of remediating any and all site problems at Fyler Place falls on the Town and can be a significant risk.
The Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance erred in not pursuing the new highway garage proposal offered by a proven developer. That proposal would have provided a new building and cleaned up sites at both East Street and Fyler Place. It appears the Boards were penny wise and pound foolish, an old Suffield trick.
IF Fyler Place redevelopment is the right project, and IF now is the right time, let’s do it right! Reviving that new highway garage building proposal would be a wise beginning.