Submitted by Emily Mitchell, Chair, Bedford Select Board
Mr. Joe Piantedosi alleges that the process of selecting the Fire Station Building Committee is contrary to the vote that established the Committee at Annual Town Meeting 2022. Mr. Piantedosi’s claims are inaccurate. The Town has consistently followed the state-required procurement process, as well as the dictates of the Town Meeting vote.
The Select Board appointed six residents to the Committee on Feb. 13, exceeding the amendment’s “three town citizen representatives at large.” The Board also appointed the Fire Chief and the Facilities Director, as prescribed, two members of the Fire Department, a Select Board representative, the Town Manager, and one additional staff member. The Board also appointed the Town Manager as Chair, in keeping with other Town building projects, such as the 2017 Davis School Building Committee chaired by then-Superintendent Jon Sills. All votes were taken publicly by the Select Board, prior to the designer selection process.
The Select Board appointed an Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) on Sept. 12 to facilitate the design and construction process. Hiring an OPM is required at an early stage under state law for public construction projects valued over $1.5 million dollars.
At its first meeting on Feb. 22, the Committee voted a resident representative, Jeff Cohen, to a subcommittee to interview designer candidates. All Committee members received proposed interview questions, developed by the OPM and required under state law, and were invited to provide input. The subcommittee expects to make a recommendation to the Committee on March 8, and the Committee will ask questions and discuss the interviews before making a recommendation to the Select Board. The Committee will also determine a future meeting schedule, considering the availability of all members. All these actions contribute to the Committee’s “participat[ion] in the designer selection process,” per the amendment.
As an aside, Mr. Piantedosi questioned the Select Board’s Public Comment policy. The Select Board has included Public Comment on its agendas, limited to business items before the Board that night, since 2020. This is a common practice in municipalities, and will continue unless recommended otherwise by Town Counsel.
We recognize Mr. Piantedosi’s history of volunteering, and he is entitled to his opinions on actions of the Town. These assertions, however, are simply untrue, and could corrode public confidence. We understand that this project is important to all Bedford residents, and we will continue an open and collaborative process throughout design and construction.
Emily Mitchell is chair of the Bedford Select Board.