Moving Westborough Town Offices to Bay State Commons Eyed

A public meeting on the proposal is Sept. 12.

Westborough officials want public input on moving town offices from to leased space at .

Such a move would cost Westborough $2,605,252 less over 20 years than "to renovate Town Hall and build a Recreation Center," according to a notice posted today on the Westborough town website.

The two projects would cost an estimated $11,088,074, the notice states. Fitting the Bay State Commons space would cost $2,388,640, or $8,699,445 more.

However, leasing the second-floor Bay State Commons space would bring a first-year savings of $393,673 on the annual debt service, the notice notes.

The public meeting on the proposal is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12 in Forbes Municipal Building Room 23.

The move would allow Westborough to house its town offices in one location, and more efficiently, the notice says.

"This would provide an opportunity for the Town to operate out of a 21st Century Town Office in the middle of a 'lifestyle center' that includes commercial and residential and was designed to be an extension of the downtown area," the notice says.

Westborough also wouldn't need to build a recreation center, the notice says. The basketball court could stay at Forbes.

"Town Hall could be sold to protect the exterior facade," the notice says.

SAT August 31, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Moving essential town offices to Baystate Commons does have some attractive features. But after reading the notice on the Town's web site, there also seem to be some significant questions that haven't been addressed: 1. The proposal says the Forbes building can be modified to increase space for the Police dept and Rec Center uses, but the costs for those FMB modifications aren't mentioned as being a part of the $2million to move Town Hall. How will those costs be paid for? 2. Selling Town Hall will be problematic. Look at how long it took to sell the church next door, and what a low price it brought when it finally was sold. Town Hall has lots of problems to be fixed: lead paint, handicapped access, antiquated HVAC. That's why it would cost so much to update. I think it would be prudent to assume that Town Hall will not be a very marketable property, and plan accordingly. 3. With a first year savings of $393K, it's not clear why the 20 year savings are only $2.6 million - they should be more like $7-8 million. Something doesn't seem to add up there. So, although it sounds like a good idea on the surface, we need to look very, very carefully at how the numbers were put together to make sure the savings aren't illusory. Not saying that it isn't a good idea, just that we need to make sure the numbers really do add up.
TBH September 01, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Sounds like a great, logical, cost-saving option but also the ultimate statement that Bay State Commons just has not and will never become the retail mecca everyone had hoped it would become.
Mike September 04, 2012 at 03:33 PM
How about putting everyone on the 3rd floor of the Forbes building back into one of the 6 schools in town and either give that space to the PD or lease less space in Baystate?
Jessica September 08, 2012 at 01:42 AM
While this sounds like a good short term solution, I am extremely uncomfortable with the idea of Town Hall being privately owned. One of the reasons behind the success of Westborough is the charming small New England town feel as you enter town. It IS what makes this town stand out from Northboro and Southboro. Town Hall has much to do with that impression. So while it may be tempting to run the shiny new building, and sell Town Hall, let's think into the possibilities of the future. So Town Hall is a law office for 5 years..when they close, Subway moves in. Another 5 years and Subway moves out for a local deli. The local deli (like most local delis) can't make it, and the building closes, uncared for and shuttered. This is an old building. It can either be charming or it can be a blight if no one cares for it. And frankly, Town Hall drives near ZERO traffic into a commercial plaza. I like the creativity, but I think Wbro has a responsibility to keep and care for this building. However, is there a reason the school dept or the rec dept can't move into the empty pediatric offices across the street? Or perhaps the empty dentist office on Grove? It's already a commercial building. There are solutions, we just need to think of them.
Rich September 12, 2012 at 02:20 PM
What is the compelling reason for new office space? Is it a lack of room in town-owned buildings (a school sits vacant only a few blocks away) or a desire for bright, new office space? And why desert the center of Town? Certainly giving rent to Bay State Commons will help that lagging enterprise, and putting the Town offices in their plaza will assure that every resident visits at least once, and probably more often, each year. So the owners of Bay State Commons get traffic and rent; the people whose offices are moved get first class office space; but the Town ends up with nothing at the end of the lease but the need to continue renting or to build something new. And why should Town government abandon the historic center of Westborough? The Town is very close to losing the ability to make the Town center a viable retail and office space. Unlike Concord, Wellesley, and even Grafton, there is nothing to make the center of Westborough a "destination" for shoppers or tourists. Yet we still have lovely old buildings and a great deal of history to preserve. Bay State Commons, whatever else it may be, is not connected to the center of Town, but really stands apart, with the backs of its buildings facing the rest of the Town and a long, uninteresting walk between the two. As soon as we move the Town offices into that area, there will hardly be any focus left for the present center of Town. Shouldn't the Town have a plan to invest in the Town center, not abandon it?


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