What infrastructure capital expenditures should Mansfield make now to make us stronger in five years?
We need to start preparing for the impending needs of our school buildings. This was one of the Top Concerns for the Future listed in the Master Planning document. Over the past few years, we’ve invested heavily in retrofitting some of the school buildings with new HVAC systems and other upgrades, but we should take a broader look at whether the existing facilities can meet projected needs and determine what new buildings or further enhancements to existing buildings are needed.
By being proactive and starting to plan for a large-scale project like this, it will allow us to seek out grants and other funding opportunities, and to start setting aside money so we can hopefully avoid a tax override to pay for a new building, like we had for the Public Safety complex. This will be a large undertaking that will involve a wide range of departments and boards, including the School Committee and Superintendent, the Finance Committee, and the Municipal Building Committee, among others.
I would also like to look at building a parking garage at the Commuter Rail station to remove the need for almost 15 acres of Mansfield’s prime real estate to be devoted to asphalt parking lots, which go almost unused on weekends and holidays, and contribute to heat island effect in the warmer months. Rather than relying on commercial developers to build and manage a structure, the Town should work to do this in a way that fits the desired aesthetic and goals of the area, while also continuing as a revenue source for the Town.