Water tests next for new Pownal facility

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POWNAL — In the accelerating new town hall planning process, next up is water testing.

Testing for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) at the 210-foot well on the proposed site of the new town hall is scheduled for Monday morning, Pownal Historical Society member Pauline Guntlow told the Select Board Thursday.

Ron Bisson, a former board member and certified plumber, will conduct other water testing, she said.

"It's the ordinary things that they test for," Guntlow said afterward. That particular well was tested about 10 years ago, when it was used for the town's gardens, "and it was fine," she said.

Asked what would happen if any of the tests came back positive, Guntlow said she was "not even going to think that way."

"Other wells around there were fine," she said. "I'm not even going there."

The new town hall's site also has a confirmed address, at 511 Center St., she said. That was important for the permitting work, which is ongoing.

"It's one layer," she said.

Guntlow sent the plans for the new town hall to Preferred Building Systems late in July. The company will draw up the formal version of the plans, which the Select Board approved at a meeting in June. Once the company draws up the final plans, they're reviewed by a third-party inspector for code compliance, she said.

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Guntlow anticipates having the final plans within about a week.

At that June meeting, the Select Board unanimously voted to move ahead with a proposal from Messina Builders of Pownal and Guntlow for a new town hall. The project involves moving a circa-1840s schoolhouse on North Pownal Road to nearby town-owned property on Center Street, adjacent the current town offices.

Modular construction would be used for the town's core offices, and the attached schoolhouse would be used for Select Board meetings and a Pownal History Center.

Guntlow said Friday that she has recently learned that the schoolhouse is in "amazing" condition. Work will have to be done to comply with modern needs, like new electrical and plumbing, and insulation.

The Messina Builders/Guntlow proposal was one of five responses the town received to a requests for proposals prior to a Feb. 11 deadline. The town has been trying to replace its cramped, aging town hall for more than 20 years.

The RFP had a cost ceiling of $750,000; only the Messina Builders/Guntlow proposal said the project could be built for that amount or less, Town Administrator Michael Walker previously said.

"It's streamlined but adequate for the 50 years-type town hall that we're building," Guntlow previously said of the project. "It's the least expensive but really well-built way of doing this. And besides that, with modular construction, it's a much quicker turnaround."

The plan is to have a special town meeting in September to approve the project, Guntlow has said.

"So we can get started. So that we can have a town hall," she previously said. "If we can get the foundation and the building moved before the snow flies, we'll beat the weather and we can have the modular set before winter, so we can expedite the whole process."

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, on Twitter and @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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