HARVARD -- The last item on selectmen's agenda last Tuesday night was aimed at seating a Town Hall construction committee as well as settling on a charge for the new group.
But when they discussed the stalled building project, selectmen seemed lukewarm about "Option 1B," the renovation plan the committee's marching orders will be based on.
After some debate, the board agreed to appoint a five-member committee, to include "at least one member" with construction management experience and that the charge would center on "1B," which calls for needed improvements and upgrades but stops short of a complete interior makeover.
The downsized design selectmen plucked from a list of cost-conscious options they asked LLB, the project architects, to come up with dovetails with another idea that has surfaced: moving municipal offices to a leased location elsewhere in town, leaving the historic Town Hall building looking "like new" outside and freeing it up for community uses.
The move-in, move-out debate has yet to happen and will include public input. But with the committee appointments pending, Selectman Ron Ricci was leery of the option-focused charge.
"I've heard a lot of pushback" about it, he said, including a statement that evening from resident Paul Richards, who previously presented a citizen's petition seeking to reroute the project's trajectory toward the Town Meeting-endorsed design.
Ricci suggested holding off on the committee appointments until data the board has been collecting comes in; namely, a local construction engineer's report on the condition of the building, perhaps waiting long enough to hold public forums in the meantime.
"I doubt he will find anything that can't be fixed" within the project budget, Selectman Leo Blair said, but delaying the process for public input might be a good idea if it dispels myths and misconceptions.
"There's a lot of bad information out there," he said.
Consensus at the table, however, was that the slow but steady forward roll should continue. The public could weigh in as the committee starts its work, they posited.
Committee meetings will be posted and open.
Reacting to townspeople's concerns about the transparency of the process, selectmen backed away from an earlier plan to create a working task force versus an official, appointed committee that's bound by the Open Meeting Law.
Residents interested in serving on the committee are encouraged to apply, selectmen said, with appointment criteria and other details posted on the town website.
Contract consideration to follow cable license hearing
In other, related business, selectmen noted that the town's contract with LLB expires in September and that their next scheduled meeting is also in September.
They agreed to hold an interim meeting to consider an amended version of that contract. The special session is set to follow the Cable License Hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.