Aldrich Hall demolition favored

by Town Reminder

Aldrich Hall demolition favored
By Walter Hamilton
Turley Correspondent

GRANBY – A report on the future of the town-owned Aldrich Hall listed four options, but demolition appeared to be the most logical choice for the property, the Select Board has determined.
The board on Feb. 17 accepted the report of the Survey Board and ordered that all power be disconnected from the building at East State and North streets. Most of the circuit breakers in the building had been turned off, but the board ordered that the service from the street also be disconnected.
The board also voted to seek the opinion of the town Historical Commission on the report and to respond within 60 days.
The three-member Survey Board was created by the select board in November 2014 under the authority of the Building Department according to a state law regarding buildings deemed unsafe. A surveyor, Ed Chapdelaine, Fire Chief Russell Anderson, and a “disinterested party,” represented by Bill Shaheen, were appointed as members. They and Building Inspector Russell Ducharme inspected the property in December.
Besides demolition, the board’s 26-page report detailed three other options: use for committee meetings; regular use by town employees; and transporting the building to another location and placing it on a new foundation. The cost to make the building compliant with building codes for the first two options would total between $590,000 and $800,000. Moving the building to a new location would be $100,000.
The demolition option would cost an estimated $50,000.
The estimated costs could rise if hazardous materials were to be found, the report stated.
The building and a barn on the property were given to the town in 1967 by the Aldrich family under the condition that it be used for municipal purposes. A change in its status would require Town Meeting approval.
The building has been used by various town departments including the School Department, Council on Aging and several other municipal offices that moved there when Kellogg Hall became uninhabitable.
In other business, the board approved three warrant articles to be addressed by a special Town Meeting set for March 9 at 7 p.m. at Granby Junior-Senior High School. The articles up for consideration would ask voters:
– To give permission to the Board of Selectmen and Board of Assessors to negotiate a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for a proposed solar array on property owned by Westover Metropolitan Development Corp. Houses on the site were sold to WMDC and demolished because they were under the airport flight path.
A second special Town Meeting approval would be needed to allow the town to enter into any contract thus negotiated with the company. That contract would specify how much the town would receive each year over a 20-year period, Because the land is now owned by the tax-exempt WMDC, the town receives no tax revenue from them.
Todd Bard, a consultant who has negotiated other such contracts between developers and municipalities, told the Select Board in January that such a deal, based on the size of the project, should bring in $40,000 to $50,000 in in-lieu-of-tax payments each year over the length of the contract. Bard has offered his services in this case to the town at no charge.
Ducharme said the in-lieu-of-taxes agreement is preferable to setting a value on the solar installation and taxing it on that amount because such installations typically depreciate by 80% within four years. A set per/year amount over 20 years would also help the company decide whether the project is economically feasible, and thus help move the project forward.
– add $10,000 to the Highway Department expense budget for pay for truck repairs that became necessary with the severe weather conditions this winter; and
– add $85,000 to the current School Department budget. The figure includes $40,000 that was needed to repair a major burst of a water pipe and associated asbestos removal at West Street School, and another $45,000 to pay unexpected out-of-district tuition costs for three special needs children.
The board also:
– Approved appointment of Officer Sean Rooney to fill a full-time vacant position in the Police Department. He has been a part-time officer in the department for 11 years; and
– Approved appointment of Dan Haska and Lindsey Pouliot as call firefighters.
In a related matter, Fire Chief Russell Anderson suggested the board consider enabling his department to raise the pay of call firefighters from $8-10 per hour at least to minimum wage and more in line with the $12-14 per hour paid by three adjacent towns.