Town Hall Committee

Town Hall Space Needs October 24, 2012 RCL meeting notes



Final Revision C – Provided by the Rye Civic League

NOTE:  These are not the official minutes of this meeting.  They are prepared by the Rye Civic League from notes taken during the meeting by members and are not prepared after listening to recordings of the meeting.  Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of these minutes, including the review by those RCL core committee members in attendance at the meeting.

            Town Hall committee members present:  Ned Paul, Mel Low, Phil Winslow, Paula Merritt, Beth Yeaton, Curtis Boivin, Peter White, Priscilla Jenness, Paul Goldman, Michael Magnant, Peter Kasnet, Lucy Neiman.

Present from the public:  Lee Arthur (Recreation Director, left early), Steve Borne (left early), Cecilia Azzi (arrived late), Peter Crawford, Victor Azzi, Alex Herlihy, Mae Bradshaw (Chairman, Heritage Commission), Sam Winebaum

Approval of minutes

Chairman Ned Paul started the meeting by apologizing for missing the prior meeting.  He indicated that the agenda was incorrect as to the square feet, inasmuch as changes were made at the prior meeting.  He stated that he felt that he missed a very important meeting and that he wanted to understand what happened at the last meeting as part of the minutes approval process.  Vice Chairman Boivin explained the reason for the increase in the square feet from 10,478 to 11,550.  Chairman Paul responded that 11,500 is a large figure.

Vice Chairman Boivin indicated that they are looking at a 25-35 percent reduction from the AG figures to give to the architect.  Some might like the appearance of a smaller building better.  Member White asked why Mr. Boivin was using a document (i.e. the AG analysis) that was rejected by the Town as a basis for comparison.  Editor’s note:  AG had projected a need of 15,090 square feet.  For a copy of this report, see the Town web site at  Click on Departments, then Selectmen’s Office, then Town Hall Space Needs Study, then Final Rye Study.  The space needs analysis appears after page C-4.  Vice Chairman Boivin replied that his figures came from the bottom up departmental analysis.  Editor’s note:  This does not appear always to have been the case.  For example, an attachment to the Agenda for this meeting (available on the Town web site by clicking on Minutes & Agendas, then Rye Town Hall Space Needs Committee, under the “Agendas” heading) shows a space need of 1100 square feet for the Town Clerk, the same figure that appears in AG’s Final Rye Study.  Similarly, the figures in the “Miscellaneous” category are largely unchanged from AG’s figures, despite the fact that a smaller building would require less space for circulation, such as lobbies and corridors.

            Chairman Paul stated that it was not the Committee’s job to decide on one building vs. two, or on what the building looks like.  The goal is to get a professional to take the process to the next step.  Prior to discussing a rough draft of the Committee’s report, he wants to consider Peter Crawford’s storage analysis.  Editor’s note:  Mr. Crawford, a member of the public, had volunteered to gather information about storage volumes in cubic feet at the October 10, 2012 meeting.  See the notes of that meeting.  Mr. Paul indicated that he wanted to see the final draft at the next meeting.  Member Neiman asked what the conclusion was from the last meeting, as she also was not present.  Vice Chairman Boivin stated that the goal was to resolve the square footage issue.  The open spaces would not be redesigned.  He gets paid to do that.  Chairman Paul stated that Members White and Goldman had emphasized a bottom up approach.  That’s what they have after the meetings with the department heads.  He doesn’t like the increase in the space figure however.  He acknowledges that there’s a distinction between the administrative and program needs of Recreation.  The administrative needs must definitely be included in the Town Hall and the program needs may need to be accommodated short term.

Chairman Paul asked why a company could not be brought in to look at the Old Police Station, determining what might be required to dehumidify it and check for toxic materials.  He asked Recreation Director Lee Arthur whether there was additional space available in that building.  She confirmed that there was.  Member Goldman asserted that, acknowledging discussion of Recreation using the bottom floor of the existing Town Hall, that it might not be necessary to include a future Recreation expansion in the CIP plan.  Chairman Paul nodded in agreement.  He continued that remediation of the Old Police Station might only cost $2500.  Vice Chairman Boivin indicated that mold and pollution answers could be obtained, along with the costs of installing dehumidification and heating systems.

Member Goldman asserted that the space needs output was not contingent on a decision regarding what to do with the Old Police Station.  Member Winslow indicated that a look at all of the municipal buildings in town was one of the things that needs to happen.  When asked whether Recreation could use the Old Police Station, Lee Arthur responded that that determination would require completion of a study.  Chairman Paul interjected that the location was great, due to its proximity to the Town Hall.

After Member and Selectmen Jenness noted a few minor changes, the minutes of the October 10, 2012 meeting were approved unanimously.

Storage Analysis by Peter Crawford

Mr. Crawford started by passing out copies of his 9 page presentation. He summarized that this was the analysis that Member Winslow had requested two meetings ago.  At the last meeting, when it became apparent that the analysis had not been done, Mr. Crawford volunteered to do the investigation and analysis.  Beth Yeaton and Lee Arthur were very helpful during the process of going through the facilities.

Mr. Crawford continued, stating that he measured all of the bookcases, filing cabinets, boxes and other items.  Everything was included but the desks, tables and chairs.  Included were items at the Town Hall, the Public Safety Building, the Old Police Station and the Recreation Area.  Everything that was related to functions at Town Hall was included.

The total volume comes to 3396 cubic feet.  The Town Clerk and the Building Inspector have the largest volumes.  In order to convert from cubic feet to the square feet of floor space required, a factor of three was applied.  This assumes cabinets six feet high, with half of the floor space unoccupied to provide for access.

Discussion ensued regarding the convenience of accessing the top drawer of a six foot high five drawer lateral filing cabinet.  Mr. Crawford acknowledged that shorter persons might find this difficult.  Member and Town Clerk Yeaton stated that she has no problem accessing a five drawer filing cabinet, although she is only five feet high.  Member Goldman argued that six foot high cabinets would not necessarily work for all departments.  Mr. Crawford acknowledged this, but stated that he was trying to establish a methodology using round numbers that are approximately correct.  The numbers can be tweaked later.

Mr. Crawford asserted that, using the 3:1 factor, the square feet needed to store the 3396 cubic feet of items is 1100-1200 square feet.  That compares to separately identified storage areas in Vice Chairman Boivin’s analysis of 1245 square feet, he said.  Editor’s note:  the figure is actually 1255.  See the summary attached to the agenda for this meeting.  However, not all storage areas are separately identified in Mr. Boivin’s analysis, thus Mr. Boivin’s provided storage is significantly higher by an indeterminate amount.  Member Neiman asked whether Mr. Crawford was agreeing that his storage need figure was the same as Mr. Boivin’s.  Mr. Crawford responded that he was not, as a number of departments do not have their storage areas broken out.  The storage areas for these departments are presumably in the work areas.  Thus, Mr. Boivin’s analysis appears to provide for significantly more than 1245 square feet for storage.

Mr. Crawford continued, stating the assumptions that department heads get 200 square feet, associates 100 square feet, and using one square feet of floor space for each three cubic feet of storage materials.  Using those assumptions, the total departmental need, excluding bathrooms, conference rooms, circulation, mechanical rooms and the like, is 3369 square feet.  This is a similar number to that in the Concerned Citizens analysis presented a few meetings back.  Editor’s note:  See notes of the September 26, 2012 meeting.  At that meeting, Mr. Crawford presented an analysis on behalf of the Concerned Citizens.

Mr. Crawford then presented a graph comparing the space per department based upon the model, comparing it with the current space, what was provided in the AG Final Rye Study, Mr. Boivin’s analysis, and the Concerned Citizens analysis.  The major differences are the Town Clerk and Assessing.  Mr. Boivin’s space allocation for the Town Clerk is substantially higher than either the model or the Concerned Citizens allocation.  Member and Town Clerk Yeaton indicated that her storage needs are not easily accommodated in 6 foot cabinets.  Many of the items are books that must be put on shelves.  Mr. Crawford stated that the second department with a major difference relative to the model is Assessing.  Here, the Concerned Citizens and Mr. Boivin arrived at a similar figure, but both are significantly higher than the model’s figure.  The storage need for this department was apparently overestimated by both.  After someone indicated a difference for the Recreation Department, Mr. Crawford noted that the Concerned Citizens assumed that Recreation would be located elsewhere, thus the figure for them is zero.

Vice Chairman Boivin asserted that the Concerned Citizens analysis has a circulation figure that must be a little low.  Instead of 30 percent added on, it should be 45 percent, he asserted.  Mr. Crawford asserted that the Concerned Citizens analysis had excluded Recreation.  If Recreation is to be located at Town Hall, then there would need to be more circulation space.  However, even if Recreation is added back, and even providing additional circulation, he is had pressed to arrive at 10,000 square feet.  Editor’s note:  The Concerned Citizens analysis provides for 8288 square feet without Recreation.  Mr. Boivin expressed concern that the Concerned Citizens figures are lower.  We don’t want to paint ourselves into a corner, he said.

Mr. Crawford continued, stating that the size of the extension needs to be limited, or the space accommodated in two buildings.  If the need is 11,500 square feet, even with a basement, the extension off of the back of the building would need to be 57 feet long.  He showed a slide demonstrating the analysis supporting that.  The voters and the Heritage Commission have rejected such a large extension, he said.

After questions from the Committee, Mr. Crawford acknowledged that a 9500 square foot total need, including Recreation, would be reasonable and could lead to an historically acceptable building.  He stated that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” however and others might feel differently.  After further discussion narrowing the range between this 9500 square feet and the approximately 11,500 square feet provided by Vice Chairman Boivin’s analysis, Mr. Crawford suggested that basic schematic designs be done using the 9500, 10,500 and 11,500 square foot constraints.  There might be a couple of additional options, for example, two buildings vs. one, L-shaped vs. linear extension.  The basic schematic designs and estimated costs could then be presented to the voters, who would then decide.  Some voters might view certain designs as altering the building too much.  Others might view some options as being too expensive.

Member Goldman indicated that Mr. Crawford’s assumptions may be as valid as Mr. Boivin’s.

Member White suggested that the specification be 10,250 square feet, plus or minus 10 percent.  Let’s have the architect do several designs at different sizes, he suggested.  Mr. Crawford agreed, saying that this was basically the same as using 9500, 10,500 and 11,500 square foot base lines.

Member Goldman suggested that the departments be permitted to respond yes or no to particular designs, so that the process may be iterated.  Member Low stated that there should not be more than one design.  There should be a single target number for the square footage.

A lengthy discussion ensued, during which the Committee attempted to get Mr. Crawford, on behalf of the Concerned Citizens, to accept a range of 9500 to 11,500 square feet to be provided as a target to the architect, with Mr. Crawford responding that he thought that multiple schematic designs should be done at various sizes, so that the aesthetic and cost impacts could be judged.

Mr. Crawford also pointed out that there were 4980 residents of the Town that were not present at the meeting.  The key issue was achieving consensus with them, he suggested.

Member Goldman raised his voice, accused Mr. Crawford of not being a “team player, “ and indicated that he expected members of both the Committee and those from the public who had attended the meetings to support the Commission’s report during the Deliberative Session.

At one point, Member Low began yelling at Mr. Crawford, in an apparent attempt to pressure him to acquiesce to a consensus with the Committee.  He said that “you people” have been given much time before the Committee, that the meeting would be adjourning in half an hour, and that Mr. Crawford needed to respond quickly.  Mr. Crawford stated that he would not accept this.  Chairman Paul then cut off the discussion and moved on to another issue.

After no agreement was reached, Chariman Paul stated that Mr. Crawford’s report would be included in their recommendations and Mr. Crawford sat down.

Committee discussion regarding the recommendations  

Chairman Paul stated that he did not want the square footage to be in the warrant article.  Member Merritt stated that they should have nothing to do with 10,500 square feet.  The goal is to get money to further pursue the issue.  Member Yeaton stated that the goal was to come up with a square footage need.  They have an agreement to build on the Town Hall parcel.  She likes the idea of a range, plus or minus 10 percent.  That’s as far as they need to go.

Member and Selectmen Jenness agreed with the range.

Member Neiman expressed concern with the last two slides of Mr. Crawford’s presentation, entitled “The Boivin space needs projections remain excessive,” and “accommodating a 11,550 sq. ft. Town Hall would cause any addition to dominate the current building.”  She stated that these would cause a problem if the public saw them.  The goal is to obtain support for further pursuing the project.  Mr. Crawford responded that this was a public meeting and that it was not possible to control what was divulged.  Although he might not do so, anyone in the room is free to divulge what had occurred during this meeting.

Mae Bradshaw, Chairman of the Heritage Commission, stated that there is a certain size that works aesthetically.  A building of 12,500 square feet won’t work.  For Mr. Crawford, or anyone else, to agree in advance to support the Committee’s recommendations is inappropriate.  It is tough to ask everyone to wave the same flag at the Deliberative Session, particularly when people haven’t seen the final conclusion of the process.

Member Yeaton stated that the Committee was charged with coming up with the square footage.  It should be 10,500 square feet, plus or minus 10 percent.

Chairman Paul stated that the goal is to obtain a good consensus in the Town.  There is a concern as to the bulk.  They don’t want a Breakfast Hill Bethany monster.   Editor’s Note:  This is an apparent reference to a large church building located in Greenland very close to the Rye Town line near the intersection of Washington Road and Route 1.

            Member and Town Administrator Magnant referred to the Selectmen’s Charge to the Committee and read portions of it.  While cautioning that he was not exactly supporting Mr. Crawford, he asked whether it was unreasonable to ask to see multiple designs.  Vice Chairman Boivin asserted that if the public rejects 11,500 sq. ft. then they move forward.  Doing designs at 9000, 10,000 and 11,000 square feet is an unlikely request.

Chairman Paul asserted that Cindi’s analysis was very good.  It came close to the range using the head count.  Editor’s note:  This is an apparent reference to Finance Director Cindi Gillespie’s analysis which arrived at an average of 633 square feet per employee comparing 13 towns similar to Rye.  Counting part-time employees at .5, the analysis arrived at 13.0 employees for Rye.  Multiplying 633 by 13.0 gives 8229 square feet.  If 1698 square feet is added for the Great Hall, the total need is 9927 square feet.

            Member White indicated that he was not comfortable with the cost per square foot figures.  There was no reconciliation between Victor Azzi’s numbers and those of Member Kasnet.  Vice Chairman Boivin acknowledged a major difference on the figures for the Public Safety Building.

Comments by Victor Azzi

Victor Azzi, from the audience stated that he had good numbers.  These should be used.

He continued, stating that Member and Town Administrator Magnant did well by going back to the full original Selectmen’s Charge, not to the one liner that appears on the agenda.  He read portions of the charge.  It’s unfair to ask anyone to speak for a group.  We have a collection of concerned citizens, not capitalized.  He is comfortable with the 10,500 square foot figure, which is where some were 3-5 weeks ago.  Member Goldman asked whether that was a yes from him in terms of agreeing to the square footage.  Mr. Azzi responded affirmatively, but that the answer to that question was not entirely responsive.  It’s not good enough to say 10,500 square feet, plus or minus.  What is the vision?  How does this add to the Town in some way?  To give just a programming number is not responsive to the charge.  There is a need for a lot more.

Member Yeaton interjected that there was no time.

Mr. Azzi continued, saying that it sounded like some wanted to kick the can down the road.  There’s the question of where the additional space might be created.

Member Goldman indicated that they should respond exactly to the charge of the Selectmen.  They’re not getting agreement on a necessary point.

Member Boivin responded that the “where” is the Town Hall site.  The “how” is the Heritage Commission report.

Mr. Azzi stated that they had agreement about those.

Discussion of report contents and other public comment

Chairman Paul continued.  Next week they’ll be looking for creative writing.  Mr. Crawford’s storage report would be added to the list of supporting documents.

Mae Bradshaw interjected that Article 27 would need to be addressed, including the reasons for excluding other buildings.

Vice Chairman Boivin responded that using Rye Recreation land does not fall within the Master Plan, which provides for Town offices in the center of Town.  Member Low interjected that there are so many restrictions on the Recreation land that nothing can be done.

Sam Winebaum, a Town resident stated that Recreation came up at the Board of Selectmen meeting earlier in the week.  They’re bursting at the seams in terms of parking.  Member and Selectmen Jenness agreed.  There were cars everywhere last Saturday, she said.

Mae Bradshaw suggested that there be a small opinion about the need to explore the Old Police Station.  Chairman Paul suggested that a second floor could be added to the building.  It is so close.  Some of the storage needs could be met there.

Sam Winebaum stated that the reasons for there being a range of square feet needs must be explained.  If it is determined that there will be a second building, what will be provided in the existing Town Hall?  Recreation may end up there with more square feet than in the plan.  The departmental space should be broken out.  X square feet for offices.  X square feet for circulation.  X square feet for meeting space.  When the voters see the number of square feet they may be getting quite a bit more.  It needs to be made clear that having all of the offices in one place may push the square footage to the higher end of the range.

Member Goldman responded that the CIP plan item for a Recreation facility may not need to be there.  Chairman Paul indicated that it’s hard to determine where their job ends.  He doesn’t want the process to break down at the Deliberative Session.

Alex Herlihy, a Town resident spoke, stating that he agrees with Victor Azzi.  There may be somebody at the Deliberative Session who was not part of this process.  We (apparently referring to the members of the public present) will be at the Board of Selectmen meetings as the warrant article is drafted.  There’s a lot that will happen between now and the Deliberative Session.

Member Winslow stated that there will be an articulation of what the Committee discussed, but the wording of the warrant article is key.

Mae Bradshaw indicated that pre sale is important.  It won’t sell based just on what is presented at the Deliberative Session.

Chairman Paul agreed, acknowledging that he had voted against the Town Hall earlier in the year.  He felt that it was too fast.  Not enough was known.

Sam Winebaum stated that schematic diagrams are critical.  They will make all of the difference.  People may be confused if they are unable to see what is being proposed.

Member and Town Clerk Yeaton stated that she thanks Mr. Crawford for the time that he put in.  She may not agree with him 100 percent of the time, but she appreciates all of his effort.

Chairman Paul asked who should write the report.  Member White offered to do the financial portion.  Chairman Paul suggested that Member and Selectmen Jenness get involved at the end for editing.

Chairman Paul asked Mr. Crawford whether some of his materials could be toned down before inclusion in the report.  Mr. Crawford acknowledged that changes could be made, but that he wanted to approve any changes to material that he had presented prior to them being included.