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Town Meeting Approves $5.1 Million Youth Center Renovation

By an overwhelming 155-8 vote, Town Meeting Members this week approved spending $5.1 million to renovate the armory building on Pearl Street for the Milford Youth Center. The spending request had the backing of the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee.

"There's only so much that they can do with donations and volunteer work," said Selectman Brian Murray, as he detailed the history of the town's involvement with the building. Murray – who chairs the Armory Renovation Committee – also referred to the large number of young people supporting the renovations who greeted Town Meeting Members as they arrived for the meeting: "Isn't this what we want our young people to be doing, getting involved in our local government, our public affairs?"

The only person to speak against the article was Precinct 8 member Michael Visconti "I am not against Milford having a youth center. I am opposed to spending $5 million on a money pit," he said. He claimed the construction costs would rise to $10 million or $15 million and said, "Just because you have the money to do something doesn't mean you do it." Selectman Dino DeBartolomeis later called Visconti's comments "scare tactics."

Selectman William Buckley, who previously opposed the article, said all of his questions about the project and the possible use of Middle School East as a home for the Milford Youth Center were answered during a lengthy presentation to the Finance Committee on May 14 – a presentation repeated in shorter form to the Town Meeting. "This is probably one of the best presentations that I've seen at a Town Meeting," he said.

The project will be financed by taking $183,254 from the Free Cash account, $900,000 from the Stabilization account and borrowing $4 million. OMR Architects of West Action prepared the $5,083,254 cost estimate, which breaks down to:

• Construction: $4,261,140

• Building Stabilization: $1.55 million (miscellaneous structural repairs; stone re-pointing and windows scope; and, replace roofing throughout)

• Basic Code Compliance: $2.33 million (hazardous materials abatement; add sprinkler system to building; install new elevator, stair and lift; provide accessible bathrooms; and, provide accessible entrance)

• Gymnasium Renovation: $380,000 (remove existing flooring and sub-flooring; remove balcony; new lighting-finishes; add proper sports equipment; and, add acoustical treatment

• Architect Basic Fees: $360,000 (resident architect or equivalent; building envelope consultant fees; hazardous materials consultant fees; testing allowance; and, reimbursables)

• 10 percent Project Contingency: $462,114

Town Meeting Members approved transferring five parcels of land totaling 78.75 acres to the jurisdiction of the Conservation Commission by a 141-23 vote. Several town meeting members questioned why the stronger protection of putting this land and other parcels totaling 200 acres were not being put under a conservation restriction.

The proposed $87.3-million operating budget for Fiscal Year 2015 was passed by a majority voice vote after an amendment proposed by Visconti to keep the budget at the same level as this fiscal year failed to garner support. Visconti said the 3.6 percent increase in the FY15 budget exceeded the rise in the consumer price index. "I'm asking this body to please put aside your 'rubber stamp' for one night," he said. "If we felt we needed a level-funded budget, we would have asked for that," responded Finance Committee Chairman Marc Schaen.


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