Brewster Forecasts $66.5M In Capital Improvements Over 5 Years

By: Bronwen Walsh

Budget and finance.

BREWSTER – Brewster published its five-year, $66.4 million capital improvement plan online last week as part of the town’s new Open Government digital platform designed to increase transparency.

“No more spreadsheets with 1,000 lines…which was difficult to navigate and access,” Town Manager Peter Lombardi said during a joint meeting of the select board and finance committee last Wednesday. The town’s annual operating budget was first published online last year, and a digital version of the capital improvement plan (CIP) by department is available at www.stories.opengov.com. The CIP
identifies proposed capital expenditures on facilities, acquisitions, equipment, infrastructure, and projects over $10,000. Projects estimated at more than $100,000 require town meeting approval.

On May 1, spring town meeting will ask taxpayers to provide $287,577 toward the Nauset Regional High School Renovation this fiscal year. The town’s recurring assessment of approximately $4.25 million in annual debt payments kicks in starting in fiscal year 2024. That translates to an additional $500 a year for taxpayers at the median house value to cover Brewster’s share of the $135 million project over the 25-year life of the bond issue, Lombardi said. The project is scheduled to break ground this spring and tentatively open for the 2024-2025 school year.

Voters also will be asked to approve another $200,000 in capital repairs for the remainder of the 2023 fiscal year, Lombardi said. That includes getting started on the next phase of Millstone Road construction ($5.75 million total between this spring and 2025), installing a new roof and HVAC system at Stony Brook Elementary ($3 million and $8 million total, respectively, between fiscal years 2024 and 2026), and replacing the maintenance building ($2.5 million slated for 2025) and installing a new sprinkler system at the Captain’s Golf Course ($8 million, primarily during 2026 and 2027). The golf department is one of the town’s two self-supporting enterprise funds, he added, the other being the water department.

“We have a lot of competing needs [made possible] because we leverage a lot of different funding sources,” said Finance Director Mimi Bernardo. The majority of the CIP is financed using free cash, along with debt payments, and state and federal grants.

Ongoing capital projects over the next five years spread out the cost of the town’s Integrated water resource management plan, which Lombardi said would be among his top priorities when meeting with state lawmakers. Also top priorities are planning for the state’s new watershed regulations and wastewater management, as-yet-unfunded efforts that the town’s newly convened task force has begun planning for, and the Millstone Road Community Housing Project, for which the town has secured $1 million.

The CIP also includes placeholders for four undecided policy questions: Drummer Boy Park improvements, Wing Island access, a community center feasibility study, and future facilities and programming at the former Sea Camps bay and pond properties. “We didn’t want to be presumptive and insert any [specific] projects in this presentation,” he said. “There will be public forums to follow.”

Repaving Breakwater and Foster roads is scheduled for this spring along with other low-lying roads in fiscal 2025. “We’re getting close to the point where we’re investing the amount of money that we should just to maintain what we have in terms of road infrastructure,” or about $750,000 a year, of which approximately $315,000 is state aid, Lombardi said. Estimated at $2 million, Route 137 design and construction remains “in a holding pattern” until 2027. The town likely will issue a new bond to support investment in new department of public works road improvement projects, he said.

The department of natural resources has begun and will continue repairing the 50-year-old retaining wall and fish runs south of the Stony Brook Grist Mill. The majority of the construction will occur in fiscal 2024. The town secured a $934,000 federal grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service that covers 100 percent of design costs and 75 percent of construction, and the town has to provide a 25-percent local match for permitting and construction, Lombardi said. “We expect to ask for the balance of the local match ($200,000) this coming spring.”

The water enterprise fund plans to use $25,000 to prep and repaint the town’s water tanks, “a key piece of infrastructure,” within the next five years, he said. A $420,000 allocation, or about $100,000 per year, would fund groundwater remediation at the shooting range on the former Sea Camps bay property. Lombardi said the town has hired an engineering firm to assist with groundwater monitoring and reporting to the state. Beginning next fall, in fiscal year 2024, the town plans to install an innovative alternative treatment system at Long Pond to help reduce excess phosphorus.

The town has begun investing in hybrid vehicles for the police department’s fleet. Those cost between $115,000 and $155,000, Lombardi said. In fiscal year 2026, the department plans to fully upgrade the station’s dispatch console, which is original to the building and by then will be more than 50 years old.

Another important investment, which was approved at last fall’s town meeting, is $300,000 to replace the elevator at the Brewster Ladies’ Library. In addition, the town plans to repair “a fair amount of rot” in the older section of the library, Lombardi said.

Crosby property plans include using $150,000 in short-term debt to replace the cottage roofs, an expenditure that will be reimbursed by future rental receipts, Lombardi said.

Plans to extend the bike trail to Linnell Landing ($1.9 million) have been permitted but not yet funded and, therefore, targeted for construction in 2026 and 2027, he said.

The select board’s next virtual meeting is Monday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m.