Selectmen undecided about old factory building

MILFORD — Selectmen seem no closer to making a decision on what to do with the industrial complex at 127 Elm St. than they were last summer when the Keyes Memorial Park Expansion Committee urged them to demolish it and build a recreation-senior citizen building.

At its July 9 meeting the board failed to reach a consensus on what direction the Recreation Commission should take on the property adjacent to Keyes Park.

In its 2016 report, the committee said the building is not suitable for the intended uses, is larger than needed, would be expensive to renovate into a community and senior center. The report concluded that building a community center near Keyes Pool was the cost-effective option.

Selectmen Gary Daniels and Mike Putnam oppose demolition.

The building’s structural steel skeleton is in good shape, said Putnam, who was selectmen’s representative on the committee. A new building would be too expensive, he said. “We’ve got to drop expectations of what recreation can do and do something manageable … This town is not rich.”

Daniels suggested the town do small renovations that would allow the building to be used soon.

Two years ago, Turnstone Corp. estimated that renovating the 30,000 square foot building, once the home of Permattach Diamond Tool Corp., would cost about $2.8 million. Tearing it down and building a new 30,000 square foot recreation center, with an unfinished second floor, would cost $3.8 million.

Renovation would require replacement of existing electrical, HVAC and plumbing at an estimated costs of $854,000, according to the report, as well as window and drywall replacement for about $250,000, part of the $ 2.8 million renovation costs.

The town would face substantial challenges and limitations because of the design, location, and orientation of the buildings, and they are not conducive for meeting program needs of either the Recreation Department or area seniors, the report said. It recommended the town build a new recreation center directly to the west of Keyes Pool and use the 127 Elm St. property for playing fields.

According to the report, proposed renovations would include offices, meeting space and areas for programs and events for the Milford Recreation Department and Milford Area Seniors in 14,000 square feet in the center building of the three-building complex and in the entire east building.

The remaining 6,000 square feet in the center building would be for work and storage space for the Department of Public Works and police.

The 10,000 square feet in the west building would be for temporary storage as needed.

The board should give the committee some direction, said Chairman Kevin Federico, because “this report has been sitting in front of us for two years.”

Selectman Paul Dargie said he supports the committee’s recommendations. Getting rid of the building would allow the town to add more sports fields on the site, he said, and what is needed is a smaller “purpose-built” recreation facility by the pool.

The board tabled the discussion until Aug. 20 so that the commission could provide more details on what the building would be used for.

The 6-acre property at 127 Elm St. was purchased for the town four years ago through private donations.

In January, selectmen told the expansion committee that recreation was not a high priority and removed a $25,000 article from town warrant for the Keyes capital reserve fund. A petition article, however, passed.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

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