Monkton drafts plans for new town building

MONKTON — After fits and starts that have spanned years, Monkton planners are eyeing a preliminary design for the possible construction of new town offices.
The Municipal Building Committee, a study group formed by the Monkton selectboard, hosted a public meeting last Thursday that unveiled early plans drawn up by the Bread Loaf Corp. If the selectboard decides to move forward with those plans, the town could see a bond vote for the project as early as Town Meeting Day.
Thea Gaudette, who serves on the committee, said Monkton first acquired land on Monkton Ridge with an eye toward building new offices several years ago. The town had outgrown its current facility, Gaudette said, so the selectboard formed the building committee with the charge to investigate what other towns of similar sizes had done to replace their aging municipal offices.
The committee had been doing just that for two years. But efforts sped up late in the summer, when Monkton planners learned about a program through the U.S. Rural Development Agency that could give the town access to federal economic stimulus funding.
“We accelerated our timeline a little bit (after learning about the options for funding),” Gaudette said.
So the town put out a request for proposals for work on a preliminary design for the building, and chose to work with Middlebury-based Bread Loaf. The contract costs the town $15,400.
At this point, the building the committee envisions for the town would have two purposes. One is strictly administrative. Gaudette said the town has outgrown its current offices, and a new space would provide more room for board meetings as well as more private spaces. She pointed out that, right now, the town treasurer’s office provides very little privacy for conversations about taxes or finances.
In addition to the administrative space, the proposed offices would also have a large social room, which could be repurposed for various meetings, social gatherings or dinners. It could also be used for classes, workshops and club meetings.
Thursday evening’s meeting to discuss the design went well, according to Gaudette, and several residents turned out to weigh in with opinions about the proposed design and questions. A lot of those questions were “housekeeping questions,” according to Gaudette, about the types of materials that might be used, the placement of some rooms, and other small concerns.
Now, the architects head back to their drafting tables to refine a final design. The committee will hold another public meeting in early January to discuss the final design. At that point, the committee expects to hear “cost associates” from Bread Loaf, and will be able to pin a price tag to each part of the building.
Then the plans will head to the selectboard for consideration. If the selectboard decides to move forward with the plans, the town could field a bond vote on Town Meeting Day. In order to enroll for the rural development funds, Gaudette explained, the town will need to pass a bond first and then apply for the funds.
But even if the selectboard decides to table the plans for another year, Gaudette said the planning work is laying the foundation for the future project, whenever it might happen.
“The work we’re doing right now will never be lost,” Gaudette said. “If the town decides that this is not the right time to go forward, then we still have the design, we still know everything we know, and we’re one step closer.”
Preliminary designs for the town offices are on display in the current town hall.

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