The end is near for Newfane’s heavy, unsafe safe


MIKE FAHER, Brattleboro Reformer

NEWFANE -- What’s gray, weighs a ton and has been blamed for breaking the floor at Newfane’s town office?

The answer is a hulking safe that has become a burden in more than one sense for Newfane officials -- so much so that the town now will pay $4,900 just to have it removed.

The big box may be gone later this week after a contractor removes part of a doorway to get it outside. But officials say it’s worth the expense and effort to rid themselves of a safe that is no longer keeping anything safe.

"It’s not necessarily a hazard," Selectboard Chairman Jon Mack said. "But it’s completely useless and occupies a large amount of space."

The safe looms in one corner of a big room that doubles as offices and the Selectboard’s meeting space. It is useful only in the sense that it holds an assortment of office-related odds and ends. A quick glance inside the two heavy, unlocked doors reveals stacks of papers, envelopes and holiday ornaments, among other items.

Town employees cannot lock the safe because there is concern that a locksmith -- at considerable expense -- would be the only person who could unlock it.

"We may not be able to get it open again," Selectboard member Chris Druke said.

The exact origin of the safe is unclear, but it arrived at its current home in 1986 when the Newfane town office was relocated to a former schoolhouse off Route 30.

Aside from having outlived its practical use, the safe last year was blamed for playing a role in broken floor joists below the Selectboard meeting room. The problem was corrected as part of a renovation project that addressed multiple basement problems.

That work was handled by Chris Parker Restoration of Homes and Barns, a Guilford-based business that also will be handling removal of the safe after Newfane Selectboard members awarded the $4,900 contract at a recent meeting.

Parker was the lower of two bidders.

Part of the reason for the project’s cost is the fact that the safe is not salvageable. It is a metal shell full of concrete, Parker said -- hence a weight that has been estimated at 4,000 pounds but is probably closer to 2,500 pounds.

Parker has developed a plan for relocating the safe: He’ll start by removing the doors, which research has shown him is possible with this model.

"Once the doors are off, it’s approximately 600 pounds lighter," he said.

Next, he’ll pull the trim from a nearby door and "cut one side of the framing away, so we can get the width of the safe through and out onto the main stairs" using dollies designed for safes, Parker said.

It’s a big job, but it’s not necessarily a huge task for Parker.

"We’ve moved buildings," he said. "So moving this will be no big deal."

Parker’s business motto is "making old buildings feel good again." Officials are hoping that’s the end result of liberating the town office from the weight of the old safe.

If left standing in its current spot, "in the long run, it will cause more trouble," Mack said.


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