Mattapoisett Town Meeting juggles school, Town Hall needs

Oct 22, 2019

MATTAPOISETT — Town Meeting on Monday authorized the formation of a committee to study whether to close one of the town’s two elementary schools and convert the closed building to a new Town Hall.

After some debate about the merits of consolidating the schools, the condition of Town Hall, and the process that will be used to consider the idea, the study proposal passed 99-28.

The results of the seven-person committee’s work will be presented to Town Meeting in the spring of 2021 for a decision on what action, if any, to take.

Finance Committee Chair Patricia Donoghue said that in crafting the Master Plan 20 years ago, the town made assumptions that weren’t right regarding the schools. They had projected expansions for schools, but Donoghue said both buildings are “half empty.” 

Sarah Storer asked why the two projects were linked in the article. Selectman Paul Silva said otherwise the Town Hall fix would require a lot of research and engineering. 

Elizabeth Milde pointed out that if Center School is no longer used as a school the town will have to figure out what to do with the Senior Center there. 

Barbara Gaspar recalled many proposals to fix Town Hall and the schools over the last 17 years. She said with the current Town Hall she was “surprised the doors haven’t fallen through,” and thought that addressing that building was much more important than figuring out how the schools are doing. 

School Committee Chair Jim Muse said He said while schools have experienced some drop in numbers it was hardly an exodus, and that the town regularly uses the buildings. 

Milde was concerned that the low numbers at the Special Town Meeting did not accurately represent the town, and successfully amended the article to have it appear at Annual Town Meeting. She also proposed five school-committee appointed members be on the committee, but that amendment was shot down, 35 to 58.

Michele Bernier said the Fire Department would also have space for meetings, and that she didn’t think the article was well-written or that it would be effective. She moved to kill the survey but was also defeated 23 to 70.