POWNAL — A Wilmington-based firm will complete a feasibility study into converting a Route 7 property into town offices.
Select Board members voted last week to accept LineSync Architecture's bid for the study on the Roost Office Building.
The firm's bid of $7,000 to $8,000 plus reimbursable expenses was the lowest of five received by the deadline. The vote followed a recommendation by Town Office Committee (TOC) and some debate of the project's merits among officials.
Suzanne Caraman, who was elected in May, asked for details about the project and the study's goals. She questioned how much a renovation would cost and took issue with the price tag of the study and a proposed new building.
"I feel we're throwing money away," she said.
Steve Kauppi said the current building "is not functional." He and others noted efforts have been underway for years.
"We're closer than we've ever been and we kept getting stuck looking at other things," said Kauppi, a TOC member.
Select Board Chairman Ron Bisson said the study would give residents a choice for what project -- either a renovation of the Roost or a new building proposed for Center Street.
"People need a comparison," he said.
Officials are looking to replacing the 88-year-old town office on Center Street. Residents last November balked at a 5,962-squarefoot building, an estimated $1.035 million project. They directed officials to consider the Roost building, which had just been placed for sale.
Five firms submitted proposals by the July 6 deadline. Estimated costs ran from $7,000 to $14,892.
TOC members reviewed the RFPs the night before and voted unanimously to recommend LineSync, according to Chairman Frank Lamb.
The firm had previously drawn the architectural plans for the new building.
"We have a great working relationship with them and they know what our goal is," Lamb said.
"When I was standing outside the polls I can't tell you how many people told me they don't want a new town office," Caraman said.
Caraman requested information about the project's history and the process moving forward. Others in attendance said residents would vote on the project.
It was unclear how much money the town has spent since the TOC was formed in the mid 1990s. Previous studies and efforts looked at the former Bartel's Lodge, which the town purchased for $60,000 in 2005, commissioned studies to explore renovating, and ultimately torn down in 2012.
No money has been spent on the Roost building, a 4,800-square-foot building at 2205 Route 7 listed for sale at $295,000. The town doesn't have a signed agreement with owner John Chapman, but Select Board members have met with him in open meetings. A site visit for members was also attended by the state Fire Marshall.
Following discussion, member Jason Olansky motioned to accept the TOC's recommendation for LineSinc, which was seconded by Bisson. The vote was 2-1, with Bisson and Olansky in favor and Caraman against. Vice-chairman Nelson Brownell and member Henry Strohmaier were not in attendance.
Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.