Study will look at Roost for Pownal offices

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POWNAL>> Officials want a closer look at a Route 7 commercial building being considered for a renovation into town offices.

Select Board members on Thursday unanimously voted to issue a request for proposals for a feasibility study on the Roost building.

The study would tell officials how the town offices would fit into the building at 2205 Route 7, which is on the market.

Owner John Chapman, who attended Thursday's Select Board meeting, spoke of how the building's open floor plan and lack of interior load-bearing walls would give the town flexibility.

But members of a committee charged with finding a new location for the town offices say they've found ways to reduce the cost of a new building and could find more.

Town leaders agreed voters should decide on the final project, whether it be a renovation, or a parsed-down proposal of a new building that a town committee brought before the public last fall.

"The thing I'm after is to finally bring this to the people," Chairman Ron Bisson said. "We need to give them a number."

Residents were given a number for a new town hall last fall. The Town Office Committee presented a $1.035 million, 5,962-square-foot building to be sited at the end of Center Street. Residents said that was too much and directed officials look at the Roost building, which is still for sale at $295,000.

TOC member David Thomas said the committee has since identified $300,000 of cost savings that could be removed from the original concept, which was created by LineSync Architecture of Wilmington, including shortening the building's length by 10 feet. Thomas said the town could save $87,000 by serving as the general contractor. "I think we can get it down to a very reasonable amount," Thomas said. "I don't want to throw out figures...but I know we can do it by managing it in house."

Much of the subcontracting work could be done by locals at a cheaper cost than what was built into the original proposal, he said.

Thomas said a metal roof priced at $67,000 could be replaced with $17,000 lifetime architectural asphalt shingles. The $60,000 architectural natural wood trusses in the high-ceilinged meeting room could be replaced with something just as functional, but less expensive. Thomas said that after speaking with local contractors, he estimated excavation services could be reduced from $50,000 to $30,000, electrical from $50,000 to $32,000.

Thomas noted the costs are purely estimates based on the preliminary conceptual drawings. The committee would need hard numbers from architectural plans.

While the town has drawings of the new building's layout, it hasn't commissioned anything for the Roost. The Select Board toured the building once in February and have met with Chapman twice in executive session for real estate negotiations, but have no signed agreement.

Thomas said a preliminary cost of a feasibility study was $15,000. Select Board members deliberated how much the town should spend on a study. After much discussion, Select Board member Jason Olansky moved to have Vice-Chairman Nelson Brownell write an RFP.

Part of the discussion focused on what voters want in a renovation, or rather, what they will agree to bond. Brownell said dividing walls and portable furniture could be brought in and not cost much. A full revamp with the works, like offices with locking doors and walls opposed to cubicles, would cost more.

"The more we add, the more it will cost," Brownell said. I heard people [at November's public meeting] say they weren't jumping up and down to pay."

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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