Pepperell BOS Provides Skimpy ‘Study’ for Peter Fitzpatrick School.

Old section of Peter Fitzpatrick School Building Complex in Pepperell, Massachusetts.

Is that all there is?

The Pepperell Board of Selectmen (BOS) finally posted the documents that two of its members, Roland Nutter and Melissa Tzanoudakis, claimed provided the reasoning for them placing an article before the annual town meeting to authorize the town administrator to sell the Peter Fitzpatrick school.

After residents at a BOS meeting requested those documents be produced, it took town administrator Mark Andrews more than a week to finally make the so-called report available. 

But the first document he had posted was a one-page list of three properties with assessed values of each (click here for that document).

In a follow-up a phone conversation, The Candle asked Selectman Nutter if that was all there was.

Nutter thought there was more, although he indicated he had not read it. 

As a result of the call Nutter stated he would see to it the rest of the ‘report’ was made available.

On Friday, Mr. Andrews told The Candle he would have the rest of the report posted (click here for that report) – which he did later in the morning.

The report provides very limited information regarding the school property and more than half of the report is about two other properties.

At various times during the BOS meeting regarding the town meeting warrant articles, Tzanoudakis, Nutter and Andrews gave the impression that a serious review of issues regarding the property had been conducted in the study.

The Candle has reviewed the documents, and information presented raises more questions than answers.

At the same BOS meeting residents, and The Candle, asked why there was a rush to sell the property. Selectman Nutter stated:

“This is not something that is just being sprung on the town.

“Last year we voted $40 thousand to go out and do this study, with the understanding that the school was going to leave the building.

“So now we’ve got this 92,000 square foot building that we’re going to have to take care of …”

When The Candle spoke with Selectman Nutter Friday morning he acknowledged he misspoke about when the study was done, and it appears there was no study done last year.

The Candle also sent emails to the BOS and the town administrator asking for an accounting of the $40,000 spent on the study – or whatever the amount that was spent on the study.

There has been no response regarding who was paid to conduct the study.

Nor has there been any response from the BOS about how much was appropriated by the town; how much was spent; and what was it spent on.

The consulting firm which provided what is identified as a memorandum and not a study, is Concord Square Planning and Development, Inc. (Concord Square), located in Boston.

The Candle will publish information regarding the spending on the study if it receives a response from the BOS or its town administrator – to whom the memorandum from Concord Square was directed to.

Some Additional Background.

At the April 17, 2018 meeting of the Pepperell Board of Selectmen (BOS) a large group of residents queried the members of the BOS about their proposed warrant Article 15 for the annual town meeting, which is to be held on Monday, May 7th.

Article 15 essentially empowers the Town Administrator to sell the Peter Fitzpatrick school buildings and associated land – with certain caveats (click here for full text of Article 15).

In the extended session of questions and comments from residents (and The Candle), the BOS and the Town Administrator provided a rambling and confusing history of what they have done preparing for what they knew to be the inevitable – that the town, which owns the buildings, would see the regional school system vacate the premises.

Two of the BOS members, Nutter and Tzanoudakis (who was replaced by recently elected Bill Greathead), insisted the town had commissioned a study which was completed regarding the disposal of the property.

Town Administrator Mark Andrews supported their contention.

The other member of the BOS, Lisa Ferolito, was skeptical of just what the report actually contained, and whether it adequately studied options for use of the buildings and land, before the town put the property on the auction block.

Many in the audience asked questions on what type of study was completed, and if those who provided the work for the study looked at alternative uses of the building.

In reading the memorandum provided by Concord Square to the Mr. Andrews, it appears there was minimal review of public safety department needs and nothing else.

Even the review done with the police and fire departments does not appear to be a very thorough consideration of those departments needs and how to meet them.

The Candle has found a report done at the request of the neighboring town of Groton’s BOS for the re-purposing of its Prescott School.

Look here later, for a breakdown of the contracted study or memorandum posted by the Pepperell BOS and another story describing the differences in how Pepperell’s and Groton’s boards of selectmen each approached getting input from their residents, prior to deciding what to do with their older school buildings.