173 Bedford St.
This week Town Meeting approved $100,000 in design funds to prepare for adding an elevator, sprinkler system and other key improvements to 173 Bedford St. (Sophie Culpepper / LexObserver)

On Wednesday, Town Meeting approved appropriating a total of $270,000 for three separate capital projects: design funds for a golf club renovation to improve its accessibility, design funds to renovate the Town’s property at 173 Bedford Street, and funds for a feasibility study of the East Lexington fire station to gauge the capacity of the current site to accommodate a new or renovated station. 

The request for $100,000 to fund designs for renovation of 173 Bedford Street, a building currently being used by the police department as temporary headquarters while the new station is completed, generated the most debate among the three projects. 

According to Public Facilities Director Mike Cronin, the second floor of the building is not currently usable due to code and accessibility violations, and the design funds would prepare the building for fundamental upgrades to its HVAC system as well as installing a sprinkler system and elevator. With capital projects looming over the next few years for Lexington Public Schools, the library, and other Town departments, a majority of Select Board members said that this building could be important for temporarily housing Town or school staff during building projects in the near future. They made the case that funding this design work now would benefit the Town, though no final plan for the building’s next occupant has been determined. 

But some Town Meeting Members, and dissenting Select Board member Suzie Barry, criticized that approach as putting the cart before the horse.

Town Meeting Member Mark Andersen (P9) added, “I think we find ourselves with many capital projects this year, and I have a little bit of heartburn [with] the fact that not all of our employees have contracts.”

The design funds for 173 Bedford Street were approved with 119 votes in favor, 43 opposed and 10 abstentions.

The Recreation Committee requested $120,000 for the Pine Meadows Clubhouse renovation project to bring the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, changes sought by the Commission on Disability since at least 2017 and delayed in part by the pandemic. Town Meeting approved the project with 161 votes in favor, four opposed, and nine abstentions.

Town Meeting also approved $50,000 to fund a feasibility study to determine whether a new or renovated East Lexington fire station could fit on its current site, where else it could fit and what size a station should be. The study was proposed because the current building is in poor condition and does not meet all of the fire department’s needs, Cronin said. Town Meeting approved the requested $50,000 for the feasibility study with 165 votes in favor, five opposed, and five abstentions. 

Earlier Wednesday evening, the Select Board decided to delay Town Meeting’s consideration of Article 10i, a $3.4 million proposal to install a solar canopy over the parking lot near Fletcher Park to power the new police station, to Town Meeting’s next session on April 24, after the LPS spring break.

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