Williamsburg voters approve funding for public safety complex designs

  • Williamsburg Town Hall FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 2/25/2020 2:34:42 PM

WILLIAMSBURG — Planning for a public safety complex took another step forward Monday night when voters approved funding designs for the project.

Nearly 250 residents turned out for a special Town Meeting at the Anne T. Dunphy School, showing overwhelming support for spending $180,000 to hire an architect to produce three schematic designs for the proposed public safety complex at the site of the former Helen E. James School. The vote was 207 in favor of the funding and 40 against.

“This was an excellent turnout,” Town Administrator Charlene Nardi said. “The steering committee is really happy so many people came out to support this.”

Nardi said the strong support for the design phase is a good indication that the town will continue to support the development of the project as it progresses. She also praised the steering committee for its presentation before the vote.

The steering committee, working together with P3, Project Planning Professionals, developed the plan and budget for the schematic design phase.

“We did a presentation to the group and then went immediately to a vote by ballot, because we wanted to make sure people felt comfortable voting in private,” steering committee co-chair Jim Ayres said.

The three designs, complete with detailed construction cost estimates, will include one for an entirely new public safety complex, another that uses the James school building, and a third that would be a combination of both.

A professional analysis of the Helen E. James school building will determine how much work would be required to repurpose or to demolish the building.

“We anticipate that the work needed to keep the James school will be significant,” Ayres said.

The design phase of the project will go out to bid immediately.

“We hope to have someone on board within the next month or so,” Ayres said. “We anticipate that by summer we will be able to report what we have learned and can ask the community to weigh in on the different designs.”

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