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Town Hall Renovations Recommended

After carefully reviewing various options, the Town Hall Renovation Committee recommended to the Board of Selectmen to move forward to develop a schematic design to renovate the Town Hall. Committee members Kelly McElreath and Steve Rakitin discussed their findings during a January 20 Board meeting.

In an effort to understand the space needs of the Town's departments, a Comprehensive Space Needs survey was completed by all departments and standing committees. The information provided by the survey was then handed over to Gorman Richardson Architects who developed a conceptual design of a renovated Town Hall. The design showed that a renovated Town Hall would fulfill 75 percent of the space needs for both the Town Hall departments and standing committees. "This doesn't include the Police and Fire Departments, the Library, or the COA (Council on Aging)," said McElreath.

In addition to fixing space issues, the renovations would make the building handicapped accessible.

The Committee said it also briefly examined the possibility of seeking out other sites to construct a new Town Hall, but according to McElreath, the cost just to determine land availability, site work, and costs for construction would run the town $30,000.

McElreath added that even after spending the $30,000 to look at alternative sites to build on, the Committee would likely come back to the same conclusion that renovating the Town Hall is the best option.

As a result, the Committee came before the Board for its approval to ask Gorman Richardson Architects to next develop a schematic design to renovate the Town Hall, which is estimated to cost $70,000. Funding would come out of the Community Preservation Act funds with approval from that Committee and voters.

Still, before the Renovation Committee can bring the schematic plans before residents at a public hearing and eventually a Town Meeting for funding approval, members must first determine if the plans meet with the Massachusetts Historical Commission's approval.

In 1988, Upton received a grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission to restore the Town Hall's roof. The guidelines of the grant stipulate that the Historical Commission has a Preservation Restriction and Maintenance Agreement on the building, and therefore, the Commission must give its approval before any renovations are done to the Town Hall.

In November 2010, a representative from the Commission came for an on-site visit to review the preliminary proposal. The following week, the Renovation Committee received a letter from the Commission which, was according to McElreath, was encouraging.

Selectman Robert Fleming agreed that renovating the Town Hall was the best option noting that if a new building were to be constructed, CPA funding could not be used.

Selectman Ken Picard reiterated that if the Town Hall were to be sold, the price would decrease dramatically due to the Massachusetts Historical Commission's restrictions, as well as limited parking and possible asbestos problems. "It's (the Town Hall) an asset to the Town that must be maintained regardless of what we do with it," said McElreath.


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