WALLINGFORD — The town is looking to replace the roof of a barn on Whirlwind Hill Road that it uses to store furniture unclaimed after evictions.
Located on town-owned open space property, the large white barn is picturesque, but its roof has been deteriorating, Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said Monday.
“It’s an old roof,” Dickinson said. “It has leaked.”
Work on the barn is out to bid, Dickinson said. Bids will be opened at Town Hall on Oct. 8. In this year’s capital budget, $95,000 was appropriated for the project. Public Works Director Henry McCully, who is handling the project, declined comment on Monday.
The barn came under town ownership in 1999 when the town paid $3.8 million to purchase 249 acres of land from George Cooke, a developer who farmed the property. After the purchase, property surrounding the barn was leased out to farmers through the farmland lease program.
A tenant once lived in the barn, renting from the town and caring for it as well as the surrounding grassland bird habitat, said Dianne Saunders, of the Conservation Commission.
“I miss the caretaker,” Saunders said. “That was a fabulous service for the town to have.”
The town now primarily uses the barn to store the belongings of people who have been evicted from their apartments, Dickinson said.
“We’re obligated to have a place to store it for a time period,” he said.
Other storage options, such as renting a unit, were considered, but it “turned out using the barn was a good direction to take,” Dickinson said. The Wallingford Community Theater also uses the barn as an area to paint sets for productions, he added.
No one seems to know the age of the barn, Saunders said. The barn’s architecture makes it very unusual, she said. It has very high ceilings, which aren’t common in many barns because farmers were frugal, Saunders said.
“It’s so scenic,” Saunders said of the area surrounding the barn.
Dickinson said the property was purchased with the purpose of “maintaining vistas of open area” that have been historically associated with east Wallingford.
Next to the barn, seemingly out of place, are three large piles of construction material. The material is being kept next to the barn as part of road reconstruction work on Branford Road, Dickinson said. It will be removed once the project is finished.
“That’s clean,” Dickinson said of the stockpiled material. “It’s processed stone as far as I know.”
There are no immediate plans to change the barn’s use, Dickinson said.
“You never know,” he said. “As time goes on, things change. It’s hard to forecast, but we do have a good use for it now.”