top of page

F.A.Q - prepared by Building Committee  4/27/2021

Frequently Asked Questions about proposed Upton Community Center
Approved by Community Center Building Committee 4/27/2021

1. What are the challenges of the existing buildings?

The existing library space in the Knowlton Risteen building:
1) is Small. Upton has 3,200 square feet of library space vs a suggested 1-3 square feet
per resident. Of the 69 Massachusetts towns with population between 5,000 and
10,000, Upton is 63 out of 69 for library size.
2) is not Accessible. Current location has no accessible entrance, no accessible parking,
no accessible restrooms.
3) Has a Fieldstone foundation and dirt floor which allows water, mold and rodents into the
4) Has 1970s heating, plumbing and electrical infrastructure that require constant
maintenance and prevent the installation of modern, energy efficient systems.
The existing space of the Upton Center:
1) Limited space. The current space is under 4,000 square feet, while the State
recommends 4-5 gross square feet per elder. Given this, Upton should offer 4,808-6,000
square feet.
2) No separation of space possible to offer different programs at the same time.
3) Kitchen facilities are limited.
4) Office space is restrictive, and not conducive to confidentiality of services.


2. Why did the project cost increase from the Nov 2019 conceptual estimate? 9.3M to
12.3M project cost.

1) Construction start date one year later, with corresponding escalation and materials cost
2) Increased sitework required including larger parking lot size, utility connections and rock
and soil conditions that were not included in conceptual estimate
3) Increased gross square footage from Nov 2019 Conceptual Design (13,728) -> March
2021 Design Development (15,132 + attic). This increase was driven by +1,400 sqft of
functional space and +360 sqft required to separate entrances and staff space for the
two departments.
Refer to 1/7/2021 multiboard presentation, slide 18:


3. Why is the building 1 story instead of 2 stories?

For a building of this size, the committee determined that the operating and design
efficiencies of a single story outweighed the advantage of a smaller footprint of a two story
building. During the conceptual design stage, a potential two story option was evaluated.
1) Library usage requires high load limits for a second story, making construction more
expensive than for a residential or commercial building. Senior Center space should be
on the first floor for accessibility.
2) Splitting services across two stories contradicted our goals of sharing space between the
departments, and created excess ‘unassigned’ space (hallways, stairs.) The single story
design has functional spaces that connect and flow into each other, providing maximum
flexibility and future adaptability.
3) A single story minimizes service points, reducing the staffing requirements of operating
the building.
4) Second story requires inclusion of an elevator with associated costs, such as elevator
foundation, pit, utilities and a yearly maintenance contract.


4. What was the design approach that determined the street view? What features make
the building more than just a ‘barn’ ?

The design draws loosely on the cupola form of a historic grist mill that occupied the site in the
19th and possibly early 20th century. In the Upton Community Center case, the functional
cupola/light monitor serves to provide daylight deeper into the building and to highlight the main
circulation spine as a way of wayfinding through the building and building organization. The
street facing façade has large windows into what is expected to be the most active part of the
building – the multi-purpose space so that the building functions have a strong relationship and
visibility to and from the street. The base of the building is clad in stone veneer for durability.
Materials are traditional clapboard above that, rendered in a red color. The red color may
influence the viewers reference to ‘barn’, however the design is not meant to emulate a barn.
The design approach also takes advantage of the Upton Zoning By Law allowance by Special
Permit through the Zoning Board of Appeals for relief from the front yard setback requirement
from 30’ to 0’. The street side of the building sits on the front lot line and the Route 140 right of
way, resulting in a 10’+/- set back from the back of the sidewalk to the building. This will help
with sight lines at the parking lot entrances. -Turowski2 Architecture.


5. Could there be more active recreation options - skatepark, pickleball fields,

On this site, the design includes active recreation on the redesigned, accessible
playground. The committee hopes there are other opportunities in town for construction of
active recreation, such as Heritage park or the ‘Trask Property’, which was donated to the town
for the express purpose of recreational activities.


6. Why not pursue the State library construction grant program?

Massachusetts has an established state grant program that supports qualifying library
building projects with typically 40% of the project cost. In order to qualify for these funds,
projects must adhere to the State timeline and design standards.
1) Grant applications were last accepted in 2017. Upton conducted a 2015-2016 feasibility
study in an attempt to apply for this grant round, and was unable to develop a feasible
design. 25 projects are currently on the waiting list for funding from this grant round.
Timing of a new grant opportunity is determined by state lawmakers. Historically
applications have been accepted every 5-8 years.
2) Successful grant applications require a design that adheres to space and service
standards which can limit the flexibility and efficiency of the design. Upton’s previous
2005 grant application was for an 18,000 square foot design.
3) This grant program provides funds only for dedicated library space. That portion of the
building used for shared or Council on Aging space would not be eligible for grant
Refer to MBLC Construction Grant information:
A short history of Upton’s construction grant applications:
2001-2003 - Regional library with Upton and Mendon. State grant approved, project fails
at ballot vote in both Upton and Mendon.
2005-2008 - Upton library located in planned village development on Maple Ave railroad
site. State grant approved in 2005, on waiting list until 2008, developer removes offer of
donated site and grant opportunity is lost.
2015-2016 - Feasibility study is conducted, which considers a combined Library + Senior
Center for the first time. No suitable site is found, and the town is unable to apply for the 2017
construction grant round.
More details in this report from the Upton Town Library Board of Trustees:


7. Why this site? Is it the best site in town? What about Westborough Rd / Maplewood
cemetery / Trask land or other parcels?

During 2015 and 2016, a library feasibility committee extensively studied the town
looking for possible sites to construct a library. All town-owned parcels were reviewed and two
RFPs seeking privately owned sites were publicized, and all responses were reviewed. Key
criteria for the review included: acquisition cost, proximity to the center of town, size of parcel,
access to utilities, suitability for building and site development costs.
By the end of the process in September 2016, two finalist sites remained: 0 Milford
Street (the current proposed site) and a private proposal from Maplewood Cemetery. Ultimately,
the committee decided neither site was feasible for a successful Massachusetts Construction
Grant application.
Since that time, the town completed the downtown vision process, adopted the Upton
Center Business District zoning changes, and the community center design evolved away from
the requirements of the construction grant program, all of which increased the benefits of the 0
Milford Street site.
To briefly address other sites reviewed:
1) Westborough Rd town owned parcel - distant from center of town, not on town water /
2) Maplewood Cemetery - committee unable to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement
with landowners.
3) ‘Trask Property’ - the estate willed to the town contains restrictions that would not allow
this project to be built on the site. (Library use does not qualify as ‘recreational’)


8. Does anyone still use the library anyway?

Upton Library has over 1,500 currently active registered accounts, and on average in 2019, 600
of them had items checked out.
Upton is a member of a library network that provides over 8 million physical items and 130,000
digital items.
During an average week in 2019 at Upton Library, 719 physical items and 183 digital items were
borrowed, there were 377 visits to the library, 46 reference questions answered, 53 people
attended programs and 43 people used public computers.
We look forward to providing increased services to residents once COVID restrictions are lifted
and the new community center expands our services. -Matthew Bachtold, Upton Town Library


9. Now that everyone has a smartphone and Zoom, are library services important?

Libraries are always changing and adapting, but our basic purpose of providing
information and technology support has remained. Usage statistics statewide and country wide
show that use of both print and digital library materials is increasing.
As technology becomes more common, complex and required, a library’s role in bridging
the digital divide for those residents that don’t have easy access to online services becomes
more important.
Libraries also provide a shared common space and personal connection for members of
the community. If the trend continues of online meetings and remote work removing our
traditional sources of human connection, the library becomes more important as a space for
community interaction.
-Matthew Bachtold, Upton Town Library


10. The Senior Center would move farther away from Millhaus apartments, how does that
affect the elders in town?

The proposed location for the new community center is in the center of downtown, accessible to
all of the over 1200 elders living in Upton. Transportation to CoA programs will be available free
of charge on the CoA Van for elders from Millhaus, Coach Rd apartments or any other location
in town. -Janice Nowicki, Director of Elder and Social Services.


11. Why isn’t the Historical Museum included in the building?

The Upton Historical Society, which is a private non-profit organization distinct from the
Historical Commission, currently occupies 2,100 square feet of space including the Historical
Museum. The amount of space needed to adequately house and display their collections was
not able to be included in the Community Center design.
The building committee hopes that Town officials and residents will support the Historical
Society as they pursue other options, including the possible use of any space vacated by the
Library in the Knowlton-Risteen building.
We look forward to collaborating with the Historical Society to use display cases and create
exhibits inside the Community Center.


12. Will the building connect to town sewer and water? Will that sewer line allow other
businesses to connect? How much does that cost?

The building will be connected to town water and sewer. Water lines run directly in front of the
building allowing direct tie in. Sewer lines require a connection in front of the former Holy
Angels Church. The total cost is estimated to be approximately $80,000.
The proposed sewer line may have the capacity to accept other buildings, dependent on their
size, usage and design engineering. The pipe is sized to match the downstream pipe which is
8-inches. The eight-inch line based on its pitch has a capacity of around 0.9229 MGD (million
gallons per day). The UCC building is estimated to contribute less than 2,500 gallons per day
(0.0025 MGD). This allows 0.9204 MGD for future development, depending on the slope of the
road as the main continues upstream. -Turowski2 Architecture.


13. Why are mechanical spaces above ground? Isn’t it cheaper to put them in a

We provided a cost benefit analysis of constructing a basement vs. placing mechanical spaces
on the ground floor and/or attic and the latter was much more cost effective. The depth of the
foundation would require blasting of rock. -Turowski2 Architecture


14. Why is the shared parking agreement important? How much does that cost?

The Shared Parking agreement between the Town and the VFW allows both groups access to
the combined parking spaces east of the Community Center. Coordinating our events and peak
usage times allows the parking to be used more efficiently and reduces the total parking
requirements of the area. 16 parking spaces located on town-owned land and 69 spaces
located on VFW land are shared through the agreement.
This allows the Community Center design to dedicate more space to the playground and
building instead of reserved parking spots.
The VFW benefits by the spaces on its property being refurbished as part of the community
center construction, regular maintenance performed by the town going forward, and an annual
lease payment to offset any disruption to their fundraising activities.
The lease payments begin at a maximum $6,000 per year and increase over time (max of
$8,000 from years 11-20, and max of $10,000 from years 21-25, with the option to extend
another 10 years.) Fundraising through a VFW annual carnival will reduce the lease payment.
The Upton Center Business District zoning encourages shared parking agreements in this area
of town, and we hope this agreement can be a model for future development.


15. What is happening to the existing playground? Couldn’t we just leave it alone?

The existing playground does not currently meet State accessibility standards, and will need to
be renovated regardless of the Community Center project.
This opportunity allows us to re-use most of the existing playground equipment, install a new
accessible surface, ensure the entire playground and parking area is accessible, and create a
new nature playground with embankment slides.
The playground, patio and building will be designed to seamlessly integrate and complement
each other. The playground will be re-dedicated to its long-time patron, Moe Capistran.
Last but not least, the community center will provide restrooms adjacent to the playground!


16. How will this project affect surrounding properties, such as the apartments at 1
Milford Street, or the town-owned Holy Angels church and open lot on Grove Street?

This project only utilizes the two town-owned parcels east of Center Brook, and our
collaboration with the VFW. There is no direct impact on other privately owned or town-owned
The building committee hopes that the Community Center will be an ‘anchor’ for the downtown
redevelopment vision, and that this investment by the town encourages and enhances future
projects in the area.


17. What is the snow removal plan for winter?

The proposed plan has been reviewed by the DPW, which will be responsible for snow removal.
Areas of the parking lot have been identified as snow storage locations if needed.
Resurfacing of the playground, with proper care, will allow for easier snow removal and a longer
usable season than the existing playground.


18. How does the size of the proposed building compare to other towns’ libraries and
senior centers?

There are 69 municipalities in Upton’s population group with certified public libraries. (Pop
5,000 - 9,999). Library gross square feet in those towns range from 1,710 sqft to 29,000 sqft,
with an average of 11,095 and median of 11,500 sqft.
Upton Library currently has 3,200 sqft of space, in the bottom 10% of our population group.
The proposed Community Center would provide 5,461 sqft of library space, 4,819 sqft of shared
space, 2,061 sqft of CoA space, and 2,791 sqft of unassigned space (restrooms, hallways,
stairs, etc), for a total of 15,132 square feet, plus additional attic storage.
In 2020, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners published “Library Space - a
planning resource for librarians”. This document contains an analysis of trends and standards
for library facilities, and the proposed Community Center meets many of the recommendations
for a small library serving under 10,000 population.
Data from annual library statistics reported to the Commonwealth:


19. What is the size of the building based on? Standards? (What is the recommended
size of a library for the town’s population?)

Upton Library space needs are based on a study performed in 2015 which included a town-wide
survey and focus group meetings and resulted in the Upton Town Library Building Program.
This building program, or list of space and service needs, has been used as the basis for each
library feasibility project since 2015, including the 2016 attempt at a State Construction Grant
application, and the current design process that has led to the proposed Community Center.
The building program, which is independent of any site or location considerations, estimated an
adequate library design would be 14,953 square feet. The current proposed project would
provide 12,541 square feet of library and shared space.
In 2020, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners published “Library Space - a
planning resource for librarians”. This document contains an analysis of trends and standards
for library facilities, and the proposed Community Center meets many of the recommendations
for a small library serving under 10,000 population.
The proposed Senior Center / Council on Aging space is adequate for program needs. -Janice
Nowicki, Director of Elder and Social Services.


20. Is this a ‘green’ building? What about LEED certification? Solar panels? Geothermal
heating? Could these elements be added later (especially refitting the mechanical room
to geothermal?)

The Building Committee received many comments from town officials and residents asking
about the ‘green friendly’ features of the project. While the project is not pursuing the LEED
certification process (which incurs additional reporting and certification costs), the designer and
committee are keeping LEED goals in mind, and have identified many areas where the
proposed design would qualify for LEED points and LEED certification.
A LEED scoresheet completed by the project designer indicates that a LEED Silver
classification could be achievable. (See Page 24 of the April 6 presentation on the town
Geothermal heating was evaluated as one of three options for the building’s HVAC systems.
Our preferred displacement ventilation system scored best on lifetime cost. The displacement
system also provided significantly better contaminate control inside the building.
Solar panels are not included in the project scope, but could be installed later.
A rainwater recapture system (rain barrel collecting roof run off) and electrical car charging
stations are included in the project.
From Turowski2 Architecture: The design energy model indicates that the building as designed
will consume greater than 40% less energy than a baseline building fully meeting the stringent
Building Code and Energy Code requirements. This building will perform 40%+ better than
another code compliant building. The project design documents have been forwarded to the
local utility company to take advantage of their energy rebate programs, which essentially pay
the Owner for energy cost savings measures.


21. Is there any potential for future expansion?

The building committee planned this project to meet the needs of Upton for at least the next 20
The interior design, open floorplan and adaptable workspaces provide the flexibility to adjust
space allocations to meet future changes in Library and CoA services.
If the town decides it needs more square footage 25+ years from now, options would include
relocating the playground and building an addition on that space; or, the design is suitable for
either the Library or the CoA to expand into the entire building, should a new facility be built for
one of the departments in the far future.


22. Did the building design change in response to COVID pandemic?

Yes, in two main ways.
First, our choices for HVAC system were heavily influenced by a desire to use all fresh air for
ventilation and have the best contaminate removal possible. The planned system is a
displacement ventilation system, where fresh air comes in low to the floor, and pushes old air
upwards along with contaminates where it is removed from the building, instead of recirculating.
The filtration can accommodate MERV-13 or better filtration along with UV disinfection units.
Secondly, the floorplan introduced more separation between the CoA and Library services, with
the infrastructure in place for emergency measures if needed. While we hope these measures
are not required, the design allows for the CoA and great room to be divided from the Library
space, and the programs room could be isolated for no-contact services with outside access.


23. What are the parking requirements for the building?

The shared parking agreement allows flexibility in assessing parking needs with the goal of
reducing overall pavement areas in the center of town. The Zoning By Law allows a 30%
reduction of parking spaces for competing uses in the UCBD. 85 spaces is approximately 30%
below the required parking for the VFW and UCC. This is subject to review by the Upton
Plannning Board through the Site Plan Review process. Additionally, an independent traffic
engineer is evaluating parking and other related traffic impact issues. -Turowski2 Architecture


24. Is exiting the parking lot onto 140 safe? Especially when making a left turn?

We believe the parking lot is an improvement on the current parking lot. A traffic engineer is
evaluating the entrance drives and sight lines, and the designer is also coordinating the design
with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.


25. Building use policies and services:

The exact policies and procedures governing use of the building have not been finalized. As a
town-owned facility housing multiple departments, several elected and appointed boards will
have authority to set policies, including the Board of Selectmen, Board of Library Trustees and
Council on Aging.
Over the last two years, the boards and departments have had extensive discussions about how
we intend the building to operate, and a joint steering committee has been appointed to make

I am able to share my personal objectives and intentions for the building’s operation, but all
policies will be subject to approval and revision by the elected officials. -Matthew Bachtold,
Upton Town Library Director.

1) When will the building be open / hours? What about after hours usage?

My intent as Library Director is to expand the library hours to match the current CoA hours, plus
remain open 3 evenings per week and Saturdays. The design of the building should make
these hours achievable with the existing library staff. -Matthew
The building is equipped for after hours access to the great room and adjoining restrooms while
the rest of the building remains secured.

2) Will residents and non-residents be able to use the rooms, kitchen, etc? What
fees or regulations will control the use of the space?

My intent as Library Director is to have the three quiet study rooms and conference room
available for drop-in use or reservation by the general public with no fee during the library’s
open hours. -Matthew
The programs room, great room and kitchen will most likely be offered for community use under
similar regulations and fee schedule to those of the current Town Hall spaces.

3) What will the great room and exercise room be used for? What sort of adult
recreation programs can be offered? (On the plan, it looks full of tables)

Both the great room and the program room have adjoining furniture storage rooms so all tables
and chairs can be easily removed when needed. Both spaces can function flexibly as open
floorspace, table seating or auditorium style seating.

I look forward to seeing the community generate activities and programs to fill these spaces, in
addition to the schedule of events Janice and I are already planning! -Matthew
Storytimes for various age groups, Technology classes, Book groups and other interest groups
such as crafting clubs. Multimedia presentations such as lectures or workshops, Art classes
and galleries, Meals though the meals on wheels program and special events such as pancake
breakfasts and spaghetti suppers, Exercise classes including yoga, tai-chi, chair exercise.
Health clinics, tax preparation and legal aid clinics. Cooking and nutrition classes. Teen/Tween
and afterschool activity groups. Evening and weekend programs. Collaboration with
Recreation Commission.

4) Will food / drink be allowed in the building?

Current library policy allows food and drink to be brought in and consumed anywhere in the
building except for directly at the computer workstations. The CoA serves meals and
refreshments at events, so we expect similar policies in the new building. -Matthew and Janice

5) Are there amenities like coat racks, cubbies, stroller parking, family friendly

We are trying to fit as many as we can! Coat racks in the vestibules and outside the great room.
Cubbies for personal possessions in the children’s activity area. Strollers take a lot of
floorspace, but we have some space in the circulation spine and children’s area and we
encourage families to use our outdoor space on the patios for strollers. -Matthew
There is a public unisex single occupancy restroom inside the library that includes a changing
station. The vestibule restrooms are traditional multi-occupancy gendered restrooms with
changing tables that meet all accessibility and building code standards.

6) Is there a nursing room where a parent could breastfeed in privacy without having
to use a bathroom?

One of our multi use quiet study rooms will be equipped with shades / blinds for privacy and
could be used for this purpose.

7) What public technology will be offered?

Current plans include 7 public computer workstations (with space to add more up to 11). A
business center with public copier / scanner / fax machine, along with supporting tools such as
paper cutter, diecut, long arm stapler.
LCD screens for public use in the conference room and one study room. Guest wireless
network throughout the building and grounds. Electric car charging stations in the parking lot.
Plentiful charging outlets in the seating areas.
A focus of our planning and design has been on providing the infrastructure to easily install
future technology. (for example, we have no plans to include a 3-D printer, but the business
center could accommodate one in the future.) -Matthew

8) How will the ‘quiet’ activities be separated from the ‘noisy’ activities?

Libraries have tended to become more active and less ‘quiet’ over the last decades. The only
group I’ve had to ‘Shush’ in the current library is my rambunctious lego building club.
The proposed community center has sound-dampening acoustical materials on many wall and
ceiling surfaces, and we have attempted to identify and provide natural separation for quiet
areas. The children’s area, program room and business center will be active areas on the south
end of the building (and connect to the playground outside), while the adult collection, study
rooms and soft seating on the north end will be quieter areas. -Matthew

9) Will there be anything like a cafe or coffee kiosk associated with the Community

Having a small cafe or coffee bar inside a library is often suggested as an amenity and revenue
source. Librarians have found that these operations are usually only successful in large
institutions such as Boston Public Library.
The community center has sink and counter space for offering refreshments during events, but
we’ll rely on local businesses within the downtown area to provide commercial food and
beverage opportunities to residents. -Matthew

If the Council on Aging forms a Friends group (fundraising support organization), there may be
an opportunity to use a cafe as a fundraiser. -Janice


26. Could a footbridge across center book be built in the future?

Yes, in the future, but there are no plans to include it in the scope of the current project. Center
Brook poses challenges - the east bank is much higher than the west bank along the
town-owned parcels, and any bridge would be contingent on MA DEP and Upton Conservation
Commission requirements.
The design of the nature play area of the playground will make it an ideal location for connecting
to a future walking trail along Center Brook.


27. How does this use fit into the downtown vision and new business district zoning?

The Upton Center Visioning Project Report was approved by the town meeting in May 2019,
and used as the basis for creation of the Upton Center Business District zoning regulations.
The report identifies 10 goals on page 99, which represent the final recommendations of the
planning process.
One of those goals directly concerns the community center:
“Site the proposed Library/Community Center and Historical Society Museum within walking
distance of Town Hall, if possible. If possible, means if there is a site that is adequate to meet
the needs of the facilities.”
The proposed project also addresses 3 additional goals:
“Activate Upton Center and make it the heart of community life in the Town.”
“Maintain the Center’s village scale and building types. New buildings should be no more than
three stories.”
“Provide adequate parking.”


28. What will happen to the existing locations of the Senior Center and Library? Can they
be sold to offset costs?

The current Senior Center is located in a leased building, which is not owned by the town. The
current lease expires in 2029, and any improvements made to the space become the property
of the owner, a private management company.
The current library occupies one floor of the Knowlton Risteen building, which is owned by the
town. The Knowlton-Risteen building is currently not accessible to Massachusetts Architectural
Access Board standards. The upper floors contain town offices, storage space, and the
Historical Society museum. The usage, maintenance and disposition of the building are
controlled by the Board of Selectmen. There are no plans or timeline in place, but it is
theoretically possible that if the other functions were relocated the building could be sold or
If the Knowlton-Risteen building does leave town control in the future, there is a designated spot
inside the Community Center that could accommodate the stained glass window if desired by
the town.

bottom of page