Without dishing out specific recommendations regarding scope or sequencing, officials this week set the table for future efforts to identify and fund some of the town’s biggest ticket items.
Meeting at town hall late Tuesday afternoon, members of the Capital Improvement Planning Committee reviewed an array of proposals -- some deferred from prior years -- to help determine Foxboro’s most pressing needs.
With the Burrell School renovation and expansion now complete, officials have set their sights on four other major building projects: expanding and upgrading both the Taylor Elementary School and 54-year-old public works building on Elm Street, constructing a new community center to replace the existing senior center facility and erecting a new fire substation, presumably on town-owned land along Route 140.
But precisely how these, and other, large-scale projects will be prioritized remains to be seen.
“They’re all legitimate needs and wants,” Town Manager William Keegan observed of the four big-ticket items. “The question mark is how we start prioritizing these things.”
In an effort to address that question, school Business Manager William Yukna suggested that any major upgrade to the Taylor School would be similar in scope to the Burrell project, even though some of the building’s internal systems, like a new heating plant, already have been addressed.
“The basis of the [Taylor] would be a gut/renovation, just like was done at the Burrell,” he said.
Given the lead time required in order to secure state funding -- which typically helps pay a sizeable portion of any school construction or renovation -- Yukna said that work at the Taylor could not begin until fiscal 2027 at the earliest.
Public works Director Chris Gallagher said the concrete-block highway depot -- which houses administrative offices, storage space and maintenance bays that service school buses, police vehicles and public works vehicles and apparatus -- no longer complies with state and federal safety and environmental regulations.
“We are looking at some expansion, but in reality it’s a full renovation,” Gallagher said of a project projected to cost upwards of $3 million.
Meanwhile, Keegan ballparked the community center price tag at $11-$12 million.
Turning out to advocate for the community center proposal was Robert Boette of Carmine Avenue, who said local seniors are “tired” of dealing with parking shortages and even missing out on events at the current Central Street location because of insufficient space.
“We’re tired of being told there’s no room at the senior center for an event we want to go to,” Boette said. “Now is about time for some of the payback coming back to the seniors for a new community center.”
Paul Dumas of Adams Street, a member of the Friends of Foxboro Seniors, echoed Boette’s concerns, adding that a “band-aid” approach characterized planning and construction of the current senior center.
“The building itself is inadequate,” he said. “This thing [the community center plan] has got to get in the queue.”
Helen Olsen of Borrows Road also implored officials to back the project, arguing that town-owned land is already available, delaying the project would increase the final cost and that the existing facility has been further stressed by seniors attending from surrounding towns.
“They are coming to our facility because we are open and having classes,” Olsen said. “It’s a wonderful thing to have them come. They are supporting us and they are great people.”
According to Keegan, other pressing capital needs include sidewalk, roadway and dam replacement, sub-surface water treatment and recreational field improvements.
This would include the turf field at Foxboro High School which was installed six years ago and has a projected 10-year shelf life.
Addressing a matter related to the high school field complex, Yukna said that locker room facilities at FHS also need to be expanded.
Although the varsity and junior varsity teams practice on the turf field, primarily in preparation for away games to be played on artificial surfaces, home games are still played at Martinelli Field, adjacent to the Ahern Middle School.
“We use the Igo (locker rooms) for our teams, but we don’t have a place for visiting teams,” Yukna said. “Obviously the Igo is not an ideal location -- it’s an elementary school -- to have high school level kids in the building on a regular basis.”
Kicking off a brief discussion of funding strategies, Yukna said the town in fiscal 2026 will finish paying off a number of substantive projects, including the Ahern School renovation/expansion, the public safety building on Chestnut Street and the gas conversion project at Foxboro High School.
This would free up $750,000 to $800,000 annually to finance another major infrastructure project, or a combination of lesser projects. For example, he said, the town currently pays roughly $900,000 a year to retire principal and interest on the $30 million Burrell project.
“That shows you that $750,000 can really cover quite a bit of debt,” Yukna said.
Keegan added that Foxboro conceivably could take on additional debt, suggesting the town’s debt load is “relatively low” compared to similarly-sized communities.
Yukna subsequently inquired about the prospect of funding from the recently enacted federal infrastructure bill.
“That could be the godsend in a lot of ways,” Yukna said. “I don’t know if you’ve gotten any clarity on that.”
According to Keegan, federal officials are currently hammering out a framework to guide the release of funds. This process should be completed within the next 30 days, he added.
By definition, capital projects and/or improvements include major non-recurring assets and vehicles and equipment expected to last five years or longer and cost over $25,000.