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Upton Town Hall Renovation Committee Presents Preliminary Report

Upton Town Hall

The Town Hall Renovation Committee presented a preliminary report to the Upton Board of Selectmen during a July 27 meeting. The Committee, comprised of Michelle Goodwin, David Mackey, Steve Rakitin, and Town Clerk and Committee Chair Kelly McElreath, is working with Michael Gorman of Richardson Gorman Architects to oversee renovations to the historical building.

According to the Committee, is it is hoped the renovations will resolve 75 to 80 percent of space needs for town employees and other Boards and Committees.

According to a draft plan presented to the Board of Selectmen that evening, the Board of Health and Code Enforcement would now have adequate space to work in and hold meetings.

In addition to fixing space issues, the project will also resolve the historical building's dilemma with not being handicapped accessible, and includes installing an elevator and changing the entrance way into the building. "I've been here since 2001, and have yet to have a disabled person be able to walk into my office," said McElreath to Board.

One of the Board's biggest concerns regar-ding the project involves the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the restrictions it has over the Town Hall.

In 1998, Upton received a grant from the Historical Commission to restore the Town Hall's roof and cupola. Part of the grant's guidelines stipulates that once the monies are awarded, the Historical Commission then places a Preservation Restriction and Maintenance Agreement on the building. Under the restriction guidelines, the Com-mission must give its permission before revisions are done to the Town Hall.

Last fall, plans began to replace the Town Hall's window sashes. However, several months later, town officials were forced to put the project on hold because replacing window sashes violated the agreement with the Historical Commission. Specifically, the guidelines state that projects to the Town Hall must be restored and not replaced.

However, Gorman stated that the Commission has seen these types of necessary renovations before and has given approval to them. "They are not asking us to restore the building, but asking us to respect the building," said Gorman.

McElreath said in an interview after the meeting that until the Historical Commission gives its approval to the project she is not certain what the costs will be. "We need to hear what they're going to let us do and not do before knowing costs," she said.

Resources to the pay for the project may come from Community Preservation Act funding and grants.

The Board appeared pleased with the initial report and authorized Gorman to move forward with the Historical Commission on behalf of the town. "I totally endorse the need to move forward," said Selectmen Robert Fleming. "This (the Town Hall) is the heart of the town."


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