Shoreham to unveil building plans

SHOREHAM — Shoreham residents will gather in their school gym on Tuesday, Oct. 12, to learn about two potential town office projects, one calling for a re-build of the former Newton Academy, the other calling for construction of a new municipal office building on the town green.
Architects will be on hand at 6:30 p.m. to explain the building options with the aid of some design drawings.
At 7 p.m., the selectboard will convene a special town meeting at which residents will be asked to decide whether to pick their preferred town office option by Australian ballot, potentially as soon as Dec. 7; and to transfer the balance of the Newton Academy Building Repair Reserve Fund — estimated at $23,370 — into the Town Office Reserve Fund.
Later at the meeting, at around 7:30 p.m., residents will be able to comment on a proposed updated town plan. Shoreham’s current town plan expired in February of 2008.
Shoreham officials have been considering asking for new, larger town offices for the past several years. The town has outgrown its current office building, a 20-foot-by-30-foot, one-story structure that has stood in the village center for around a half-century. As the community has grown, the small building has become increasingly hard-pressed to host town records, committee meetings and new computer equipment.
Some residents had advocated for absorbing the town offices into the 1810 Newton Academy building on School Street. The historic structure was under renovation, hosting some local businesses and being eyed as a community center. But an April 7 lightning strike sparked a fire that destroyed the building. Newton Academy boosters successfully applied for grant money they hope could be applied toward a rebuild.
Architects at the Tuesday meeting will present an option for erecting a new version of the academy building that would house municipal offices on the first floor, and a community center with a kitchen and auditorium on the second floor. Preliminary cost estimates for this option have been placed at around $1 million, according to Shoreham selectboard Chairman Paul Saenger.
Architects will present an alternative option of building a new, approximately 2,000-square-foot municipal office building near the site of the current town clerk’s office, tentative costs of which have been placed at around $550,000, according to Saenger. The town has been regularly sweetening a fund to help pay for municipal office construction costs.
Residents will also have the option of not pursuing either building option when the issue comes up for a vote.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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