Town and village officials say an upcoming study of the municipalities will help address a status quo that finds departments operating in a sub-optimal environment and could lay the ground work for future municipal construction projects.

That’s the goal of an upcoming space needs analysis in which the municipalities are seeking an outside firm to gauge their current facilities and project what they might need 30 years from now – a lengthy timeframe that would give the boards “significant time to obtain voter support for new facilities,” according to a draft request for proposal.

Deputy town manager Greg Duggan emphasized the study will not include recommendations on specific properties or projects but rather inform officials of what’s needed to perform municipal services in the future.

“From there, we can decide what’s important in terms of property and where and when,” he said.

The selectboard authorized staff last month to seek proposals for the study and agreed to add two village departments – recreation & parks and fire – to the four originally selected: town fire, town parks & recreation and town and village public works.

Funds for the study were included in the fiscal year 2018 capital budget. The village will pay $10,000 while the town will cover the remainder of a $40,000 budget, though staff may need to ask for more money due to the added departments. Staff planned to ask for the trustees’ approval Tuesday night, after The Reporter’s deadline.

The draft RFP explains the four initial departments are operating in “sufficiently old and non-code compliant” buildings that don’t accommodate employees, lack space for equipment and materials, prevent departments from working efficiently and, in the case of the town recreation department, rent space for programs. The two additional departments, meanwhile, are included “with consideration for future merger.”

“It is unknown at this time whether or not the two communities will remain as they are today (partially consolidated), merge into one community or separate into two independent entities,” the document reads.

Indeed, the swirling questions about governance between the town and village are complicating matters by forcing the analysis to account for several futures.

“Even in a consolidated world,” Duggan said, “you could need different locations or multiple facilities.”

The selected firm must determine the current and future space needs of the departments and meet with department heads at least twice. It must then write up a report for the trustees and selectboard outlining its recommendations on space requirements.

Using that document, the selected firm must develop preliminary sketch plans and cost estimates for proposed building and host a public presentation of its findings. At the project’s conclusion, the firm will submit a final report, plans and cost estimates to the town and again host a public presentation for the two elected boards. Each of the four phases comes with a 60-day deadline.