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As the sole bidder, the Roudenbush organization won the request for proposals for the lease of three town-owned buildings on Aug. 8, prompting selectmen to unanimously vote to finalize a lease agreement and take up the matter again on Aug. 22.
Assistant Town Manager Eric Heideman said town officials and Roudenbush board members will continue to hash out the final lease agreement this month. Working with town counsel and Town Manager Jodi Ross, Heideman said he anticipates the lease will be signed by the end of the month.
“We’re in the process of drafting a proposed lease now,” he said.
The non profit Roudenbush organization currently has its administrative offices at 65 Main Street, a historic building which will undergo major renovations beginning Sept. 15. The 17,000 square foot building will grow to about 27,000 square feet and an elevator will be added for handicapped accessibility. The building’s structure, electrical wiring, fire suppression system, and plumbing will be updated. But the renovations are not good news for everyone.
Twenty-seven out of 67 employees are losing their jobs, according to Pattie Pichette, Roudenbush’s executive director.
“That again is bittersweet because many of our staff is being laid off,” she said. Community Education, the Before and After School program, and gymnastics are all being suspended until the move is completed.
Staff members are packing boxes and getting ready to move the administrative offices to 234 Littleton Road.
Roudenbush also runs programs at the Roudenbush Children’s Center at Frost, at 73 Main St., and the Roudenbush Children’s Center at Nabnasset, at 170 Plain Road.
Pichette sparred briefly with town officials over whether the organization would return at all to the building. Once renovations are completed in December 2018, Roudenbush would have only about 18 months left on its five-year lease with no option to extend it. The current extended lease ends on June 30, 2020. Pichette expressed concern that moving back to the building for such a short period might not make financial sense.
But both town and Roudenbush officials got together this month to negotiate a new lease agreement. The two parties agreed to a five-year lease that would end in 2025. The town reserved its right to negotiate lease extensions of five years each up to a maximum of 20 years, said Heideman.
Negotiations will begin 15 months before the first five-year lease ends.