Falmouth’s Facilities Planning Committee recommends spending more than $9 million to move Town Hall and the library and open a new recreation center. But the cost of renovation is far higher than new construction and the site is a non-conforming use. It would be more fiscally responsible to return the site to residential use and, if needed, build new, less-expensive construction in an appropriate location.
Why spend $3.6 million to double the size of the town offices when the current building has more than adequate space?
Libraries are evolving in response to the explosion of digital media. Library trustees and the Town Council should continue to discuss the type and and the scope of services the town can support. Then, design a facility that can deliver services efficiently. Spending $4.4 million to renovate space because “it’s there” is a huge expense and puts the cart before the horse.
The recreation center is the first inning of a whole new game. Can the town afford the additional expense and staff expansion?
The committee projects that almost half of the renovation cost can be recovered by selling vacated properties. The appraisals are based on “extraordinary assumptions and hypothetical conditions.” These values will be hard to achieve.
The modest increases in operating expenses are inconsistent with experience for a project that would double the size of the Town Hall and the library and add an entirely new recreation amenity. There is a direct relationship between staff and empty space.
The proposal would make it hard to justify even in good times.
David R. Murray