Committee working to reduce cost of Pownal town office project


POWNAL — The committee charged with finding a new home for town offices is trying to reduce the cost of a new building.

Town Office Committee members met on Monday to trim features from a proposal that residents saw last fall. The work session was held in anticipation of an upcoming meeting between the committee, the Select Board and the owner of a Route 7 property being eyed for a possible renovation.

Meanwhile, town leaders are still working to address issues with the existing town hall on Center Street.

A new building

TOC members on Monday discussed possible reductions to a plan presented to voters last November. The committee was told to bring a proposal to residents, Chairman Frank Lamb said.

"We quickly learned that wasn't going to fly,' he said.

The committee, with conceptual drawings created by Line-Sync Architecture of Wilmington, presented a 5,962-square-foot building to be sited at the end of Center Street on the site of the former Bartels Lodge. Residents took issue with the estimated cost of $1.035 million

The committee identified over $200,000 of features that, if eliminated, would reduce the project cost. Member David Thomas described a metal roof, decorative trusses in the main meeting room, and tile flooring in rooms versus vinyl as "luxuries" that were not necessary. The size of the meeting room could be reduced, they said, and there were additional items that could be removed from the project.

A renovated building

Residents have called for the renovation of a building and officials then turned their eyes to the Roost Office Building at 2205 Route 7. The Select Board has met with owner John Chapman twice for real estate negotiations, but no agreement has been signed.

The 6.69-acre property — with a 27-year-old, 4,800-square-foot main building and 988-square-foot outbuilding — is listed for sale at $295,000. The property is assessed $370,000 and the tax bill was $7,022.55 in 2015, according to the Listers office.

The Select Board is scheduled to meet with the TOC and Chapman on May 12. Chapman was asked to present some sort of conceptual plan for the Roost building.

Select Board Vice Chairman Nelson Brownell said it would be up to voters to decide which project they should bond, and therefore, which project would ultimately move forward.

Upgrades 'had to be done'

The town office building at 467 Center St. isn't getting younger, and town leaders made the decision to address lingering issues with the building. Since last spring, the town has spent just under $43,000 on building maintenance, according to town records.

The biggest item was $30,191 for handicap accessibility upgrades — $17,482.50 for new railings and $12,705.50 for a handicap ramp leading from Center Street to the front entrance way and around the building's side entrance.

Brownell said accessibility has been an issue for years and the town had to address it.

He pointed out that even though the effort to replace the building appears to be moving forward, it could be a few years before anything comes to fruition.

Town leaders also signed off on mold and allergen management, as recommended in an air quality report completed last fall. Ceiling tiles, insulation and gutters were replaced for $4,335. Two air purifiers were purchased for a total of $1,800 and are placed in the front and rear of the building.

Other repairs included exterior painting for $3,150; replacement of an old furnace and installation of a new one, $2,000; $950 for electrical work, and $535 for miscellaneous work.

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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