Sell the Town House, use the VFW

Oct 19, 2016

To the Editor:

Hats off to the Selectmen and Finance Committee for deciding to omit the Town House renovation article at this years Fall Town Meeting. The playing field has changed with the recent offer of the VFW property to the town. Suddenly we have other options.

The news recently about the cost of just the plans for possibly renovating the Town House was disturbing. In the warrant we were going to be asked to approve a half million dollars for plans for a complete modernization of the Town House. The final cost for this was estimated at $11 million plus. Now we have time to consider other possibilities.

We are also asked to decide if we want to accept the gift of the VFW hall and property, some six acres, I think. Has it been discussed that we could move the whole Town House to the VFW and have a Senior center there, too?

In any scenario, the work force and contents of the Town House will be moved to an alternative place if: (1) we modernize the Town House or (2) if we abandon the Town House. The cost for the move and months of relocation will be the same regardless of the scenario. There is obviously a place large enough to move to. I assume it is either the VFW or Marconi building. You know, the Town House could just stay there!

Has anyone looked into how many square feet of space an office needs for each worker? There is a handy site for estimating online: Office space average costs in our area are $135/sq.ft. A very generous allotment of space for offices and meeting rooms for 20 workers and meetings is under 5,000 sq.ft. How many Town House workers are there? If there are 20, then that's an expenditure of $550,000 per worker if modernization costs $11,000,000. That's a lot!

Please consider selling the Town House with a restriction on keeping the exterior historically correct. It would make nice luxury condos for some folks.

Please consider either renovating the VFW or building a bare bones building at the VFW to be the new Senior Center/Town House. I don't mean a fancy building like the Police Station. I mean a utilitarian building.

Annie Rockwell

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