In light of the Municipal Center being finished more than a year ago, is it time to upgrade the Town Hall building?
Some town departments moved into the new center, while others remain at Town Hall. Town Council candidates were recently asked about the future of Town Hall and whether it should be renovated. Candidates agreed that the building is important and should be maintained. But they differed over whether the town should spend money on renovations anytime soon.
Republican council candidate Paul Champagne said the town moved in the right direction creating the Municipal Center. With an $85 million middle school renovation project underway and $11 million in road repairs, he doesn’t think it is the time to spend on Town Hall improvements.
“Looking down the road, as money comes available, I think it’s the appropriate thing to do,” he said.
Democratic candidate Dennis Conroy said he does not want to see the remaining Town Hall offices moved. He agreed that with other obligations remodeling Town Hall isn’t a top priority.
“At some point, especially the front of the building, might need something but it’s functional now, it’s working,” Conroy said. “Now may not be the time.”
The town will be able to replace the windows at Town Hall with the help of a Neighborhood Assistance Act Grant. The windows were old and full of drafts. In April, Town Manager Garry Brumback asked the Town Council for authorization to apply for the grant, which tops out at $150,000. In August, the town’s application was approved. The program is administered through the state Department of Revenue Services.
Democratic incumbent Dawn Miceli also said she would not support funding to renovate the Town Hall at this time because taxpayers are still paying for the Municipal Center. She hasn’t heard of any issues with the Town Hall besides improving energy efficiency and creating a “comprehensive energy savings plan.”
“We really need to focus on that in the next term and ensure we are utilizing all private funding sources out there,” Miceli said. “We need to ensure we are doing all we can to make that building as energy efficient as possible.”
Republican incumbent Cheryl Lounsbury said the town needs a long-term plan to keep up with Town Hall maintenance.
“I think for too many years we let our buildings go, sewers go, and roads go, and we’re paying the price now,” Lounsbury said.
Victoria Triano, a Republican candidate, said the Town Council should talk about how to proceed with maintaining Town Hall.
“This is a very difficult season for our community in terms of finances so any upgrade or renovations would have to be a discussion as to how we are going to pay for them,” Triano said. “We are in a crunch.”
If any renovations were to be done, Democratic candidate Chris Kelley agrees with Conroy that the offices should stay in Town Hall because of its location in the center of town.
“I think that the Town Hall should be the location for all of the town offices,” Kelley said. “In order to do that, however, we need to consider looking into viable options for its expansion while still addressing the concern for parking at the Town Hall.”