HARVARD -- Town Administrator Tim Bragan told selectmen at their recent meeting that he'd been following up on the trailer option for Town Hall's temporary move during renovations, as they had directed him to do. This in addition to other options he's been looking into: renting space in a building in Devens or the Appleworks Building on Ayer Road, besides moving into the old library for the duration of the Town Hall project.
Bragan said he and Finance Director Lorraine Leonard went to Amherst to look at a trailer sited on UMass property that the university wants to get rid of; it was formerly used by the school system, he said. The 72-foot long, doublewide trailer isn't big enough to accommodate all of Town Hall staff and stuff, he said, "but it's close."
It would be moved in two parts and assembled on a new site, he said, sketching the logistics if the trailer were to become Harvard's temporary Town Hall. The cost to move it would be about $7,000. Asked if the trailer had its own wheels, Bragan said he and Leonard hadn't looked under the skirt to see if its undercarriage was intact.
In this scenario, additional space would need to be found for a few offices and Town Hall files and records would need to be stored someplace else, Bragan continued. As for the site, he said the parking lot behind The Bromfield School looks like it would work, with electrical and septic hookups nearby. There was some doubt as to whether the town or the Bromfield or library trustees own the property, but consensus was it belongs to the town.
Getting back to the trailer, Bragan said it's on UMass property and the university owns it, but they want to get rid of it to use the space for something else. New, it cost $217,000, he said.
The question then became, what would the town do with the trailer after its useful life as a satellite Town Hall was over? Most likely it would find a home someplace else in town, or someone else would want it, Bragan said. But those were hypothetical questions and for the moment at least, beside the point.
More immediate concerns centered on just what kind of environment they were considering if the trailer is a serious possibility. "Should we go see these places?" Selectman Marie Sobalvarro asked, meaning not only the trailer but also the office spaces MassDevelopment and Appleworks have to offer.
Selectman Bill Johnson said they should eye the sites for work that would need to be done to outfit identified spaces to suit Town Hall purposes and what that work would be worth to the town later. "A key consideration as we look at investments, such as improvements to the old library, would be some long-term payoff," he said.
If so, only the library and possibly the trailer would have after-life value for the town. Any retrofitting at the town's expense that might be called for at Appleworks or Devens would be a sunk cost with no resale value.
And the trailer would have to be moved pretty quickly after its tenure as a temporary Town Hall was over.
"My take" is that the town wouldn't want to clutter up its beautiful Bare Hill Pond viewshed forever," Bragan surmised. "Any work we did in an Appleworks or Devens buildings would be for temporary use only," and would have no lasting value to the town, he said.