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Board Supports Moving Forward with Town Hall Improvements

During a January 5 meeting, the Upton Board of Selectmen reviewed and approved moving forward on several improvement projects for the Town Hall. Kelly McElreath, Town Clerk and Chair of the Town Hall Building Committee, discussed the punch list of projects with the Board as well as provided estimated costs for each.

McElreath explained that since construction ended more than a year ago, some additional improvements to the renovated building have come to light estimated to cost $65,000 in total. Approximately $71,000 still remains in the Town Hall renovation budget.

One of those projects includes supplemental heating. According to McElreath, several rooms on the ground floor, including the Assessor's office and a conference room, were not equipped with fan coils, which help adjust room temperature. She explained in the winter, heat kicks on fine in the building as does the air conditioning in the summer. However, she said, "On a cold dreary day in the summer, I can hit my fan coil and spark some heat." Those rooms without the fan coils do not have that option. The estimated cost for the supplemental heating project is $11,000.

"That's a design oversight," said Selectman Chair Ken Picard. "You should have re-heats to heat the area in the summer time. That's a design flaw." Selectman Jim Brochu agreed. "That really sounds like an error in design. That really bothers me. They did it everywhere else but there's a section where they didn't," he said.

McElreath explained the issue was discovered after the building was occupied. When she had a meeting with the engineer and the construction company it was recognized by them as a design flaw.

Another building improvement concerns installing a heat trace system to avoid ice dams estimated at $21,585. There are certain areas of the Town Hall roof that receive no sun and therefore causes ice to build up. McElreath said the heat trace was in the initial budget but it was taken out because of costs. "However, after last winter, we really feel that needs to go back in," she said.

The Town Hall is now ADA compliant but adding automatic door openers at some locations would make access even easier for those with disabilities. "My issue when I watch these people is the awkwardness of trying to open the door; someone in a wheelchair trying to push it forward," explained Picard of the doors. "We are being ADA compliant and doing what we can ethically. But I don't think we're doing what we can morally. We promised we'd make the building 100 percent ADA complaint; access to everybody. I think we have an obligation to fulfill that promise and get that done." The estimated cost for the door openers totals $17,310.

Other projects discussed included purchasing acoustic tiles to help limit echoes in meeting and other rooms totaling $15,390 as well as purchasing AV equipment; that cost is unknown." I'm in favor of these," said Selectman Robert Fleming. "Every one has a solid base and they're a long- term investment." The Board agreed to move forward on each project but agreed to investigate the most effective means to fund them to try and reduce costs.


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