By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Several town departments will temporarily be moving to the old Village Pharmacy once the $63.5 million public safety buildings and Town Hall project gets underway later this year.
Town Administrator Rob Dolan recalled during last week’s Select Board meeting that Town Hall employees will be displaced once the project begins later this year. He said the town will be renting the old Village Pharmacy location at 590 Main St. and the upstairs office space located at 590A Main St.
“We researched properties in the area, and we are going to use this space for Town Hall staff,” said Dolan.
Assistant Town Administrator Bob Curtin informed the Villager in an email that the Inspectional Services, Health, and Planning and Conservation Departments will be located in the old Village Pharmacy along with the DPW administration.
“The Town Administrator’s Office will be upstairs,” stated Curtin.
Dolan echoed Curtin’s sentiment during last week’s Select Board meeting.
“Citizens looking for building permits, licenses, planning and conservation and the DPW will have one central place to go,” said Dolan. “We are going to be using the entire pharmacy as well as upstairs. It’s a very reasonable deal. We will be using it for two years.”
Public Safety Building Committee Chairman John Scenna informed the Villager in a text message that the town will be paying “$36 per square foot for all of the space” that will be rented.
Select Board Chairman Phil Crawford expressed his support for renting the old Village Pharmacy and the upstairs offices.
“It’s great that we don’t have to move too far,” said Crawford. “We are still centrally located. I think it’s great that we will have temporary space in the center of town.”
The Select Board unanimously voted to approve both leases.
After late Village Pharmacy co-owner/registered pharmacist Brian Ambrefe passed away unexpectedly in August 2019, the town institution closed its doors permanently in November of that year. Village Pharmacy opened in 1961.
Voters approved the $63.5 million public safety buildings and Town Hall project 694 votes to 508 votes, representing a 58 percent to 42 percent margin, during a Special Town Election last December. The Special Town Election vote was closer than the 287-33 vote at last November’s Fall Town Meeting.
The Town Hall component of the project will make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by constructing an elevator. A new H. Joseph Maney Meeting Room will also be built for municipal boards and community groups to use.
In addition to the Town Hall component of the project, a
new three-story Fire Headquarters that will have four bays will be built next to the existing South Station. The current South Station will be razed once the new Fire Headquarters is built. The Police Station and current Fire Headquarters will also be renovated and expanded.
Town officials originally estimated that the public safety buildings and Town Hall project would cost $41.25 million last winter, but the price tag increased to $63.5 million last fall due to rising interest rates, supply chain challenges, construction cost escalations and inflation.
Due to $33 million in debt from the early 2000s school projects and the Reedy Meadow Golf Course purchase expiring by the end of 2025, the project’s tax impact will be based on $30.5 million instead of the full $63.5 million. Based on the average home value of $816,964, the average tax impact on each home will be $385 annually and $32 per month.
In the wake of the project moving forward, public safety and Town Hall employees will work in temporary spaces from the fall of 2023 until the project is completed in late 2025 or early 2026.
Project bond issued
In addition to approving the office space lease, the Select Board voted to approve the issuance and details for a $12 million bond for the public safety buildings and Town Hall project.
Dolan recalled that the town will be bonding $63.5 million for the project.
“Right now, we are borrowing $12 million to cover design costs for the project,” said Dolan. “As part of that process, the town was formally evaluated by Standard & Poor’s. We held the town’s bonding rating of AA+, which is an incredibly strong bond rating. We went out on the market, and we have received an excellent interest rate of 2.75 percent, which is less than what we budgeted. We are ready to move forward to fund the project’s design costs.”
Crawford was pleased the town will be receiving a 2.75 percent interest rate.
“I was especially happy with the interest rate considering today’s environment,” said Crawford. “I think it’s a great start to getting these projects going and paying for these soft costs.”
Select Board member Joe Connell agreed.
“It’s an incredible interest rate,” said Connell. “We are very lucky.”