The Board of Selectmen approved the transfer of $23,500 from the Board of Finance's contingency budget to hire an architect to further examine the feasibility of the proposed facility shuffle. The 3-2 vote, which was divided between party lines, means that the transfer will be referred to the BOF.

The $23,500 figure will be paid to Beinfield Architecture, PC, a South Norwalk-based architectural firm chosen by Republican First Selectman David Campbell to examine three options: moving the senior center into the current Board of Education Central Office space at 2 Renshaw Road; moving the senior center to 35 Leroy Ave.; and moving the BOE Central Office to 35 Leroy Ave.

Democratic Selectmen David Bayne and Callie Sullivan both voted against the transfer, while Campbell and fellow Republican Selectmen Jayme Stevenson and Jerry Nielsen voted in favor of appropriating the funds.

Bayne said he planned to vote against the transfer not because he was against reviewing the properties, but because he would rather see the senior center stay at Edgerton Street.

"I simply can't wrap my head around using 35 Leroy for either Board of Ed as office space, or the senior center. ... I would like to have the discussion of selling the property to fund the senior center," Bayne said.

"I think if you had stood before the RTM in 2007 and said we're spending $4.2 million for Board of Ed office space, plus whatever it will cost to renovate that ... I really don't think the RTM would have bought that building," he said.

Nielsen disagreed.

"I think 35 Leroy is a lot more than a building for the Board of Ed," he said. "If you take 35 Leroy out of the equation, and you sell it, you're forced to either rebuild a building for the Board of Ed or the senior center, and you take away another municipal building."

Sullivan said she was against "looking at the spaces first and then the program." Both she and Bayne said they would like to look at programs first, before designing a space around them.

But Stevenson said that going ahead with architectural assessment will provide information that could be key in creating programming.

"The most important piece of their job is to get into AutoCAD what actually exists [in the current BOE central office space], because it's very convoluted downstairs. By having someone take the time to put that plan on paper will help inform us to what kind of space we have, to have that conversation about what else we might do here with a `senior center of the future,'" said Stevenson, who served as chairman of the Facilities Study Task Force, which made the recommendation to enlist an architect.

"I think it's a technicality, but I think you need to get something on paper so you know what you're working with," Stevenson said.

The town did not receive competitive bids for the project; Town Administrator Karl Kilduff said it does not require competitive bidding. Republican First Selectman Dave Campbell said he is very familiar with the firm and its work, which includes schools and other municipal buildings.

The Republicans voted in favor of transferring the funds, while the Democrats voted against the transfer.