WATERTOWN — During a town meeting held Tuesday, February 16, the Town Council unanimously approved an appropriation of $148,085 for the Heminway School Renovation to Watertown Town Hall project.

The budget calls for $55,938 to install audio visual equipment in the town council chambers, with an additional $2,970 for workstation desks in that room.

Cameras, motion sensors, and alarms would cost $61,697.

One thousand dollars will be spent on signage and associated electronic modifications for the elevator.

Signage for the first-floor display cases will cost $1,500 and $10,000 will be spent on building maintenance and operations software.

Finally, the architectural design and installation of safety awnings will cost $14,980.

Resident Alan Mickel referred to the minutes of the February 1 town council meeting, when those members approved $51,938, to question the ability to appropriately authorize the appropriation as the numbers do not match.

The council reviewed the details of the work planned to note that, while there was indeed a difference in totals, the work described in the minutes was different from the work approved in the appropriation.

Mr. Mickel also asked why an architect would be needed for a safety awning. Roy E. Cavanaugh, director of public works, said the installation would be a custom rather than off-the-shelf product and require expertise to cover the two rear building doors to protect people from the elements.

Finally, Mr. Mickel questioned building maintenance and operations software licensing, learning that the Board of Education uses the same software in multiple buildings but the town would not legally be allowed to use those licenses.

“How do we share the heat, hot water, and air conditioning in the town council chambers?” Mr. Mickel confirmed that the cost of utilities is prorated, based on square footage, to share the expense with the school district.

Resident Katherine Camara asked why this appropriation was occurring now and not during the bulk of the work done to the former school building.

While some items were removed from the project to keep costs low such as AV equipment, items such as signage and awning were new to the project.

There had been the hope that contingency funds could have paid for the items pulled from the original budget but that was not possible.

Due to the pandemic, meetings have been shared virtually and recorded but the new system will follow the protocols of education meetings, with features such as live streaming.

The additional security items were recommended by the police department after the building was occupied.

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