Panton to remove, store historic cupola

PANTON — Panton selectmen believe they may have found a way to remove the cupola from atop Panton Town Hall, and keep it, too, while allowing the building’s roof to be fixed.
The board had been wrestling with the problem of what to do with the cupola after residents voted at a Sept. 7 special meeting against borrowing $40,000 to fix the deteriorating cupola as part of a larger project to repair the building’s leaky roof.
If the cupola was simply removed and replaced with roofing, the cost would drop from more than $70,000, including that $40,000, to a little more than $30,000.
Town officials agree the roofing must be repaired soon to prevent structural damage to Town Hall, which hosts town meetings upstairs and the town clerk’s offices in the basement.
During Panton’s Sept. 10 celebration of the town’s 250th anniversary, selectboard chairman John Viskup said resident Bill Luginbuhl came up with a proposal that selectmen and residents alike agreed upon: remove the cupola in one piece, shrink-wrap it, and store it on blocks behind Town Hall.
Viskup said selectmen, who agreed on the concept at their Sept. 13 meeting, believe Panton will remain eligible for grants that could support the town’s long-term goal of renovating the building into a visitor and community center with fully functional rest rooms and a kitchen.
“If the money is somehow available at future date it can be placed back on the hall,” Viskup said, adding, “It sort of gives everybody the option.”
The board — Viskup, Eric Carter and Beth Tarallo — had been divided on whether to simply remove the cupola or repair the roof around it and leave it in place, possibly risking more leaks by doing so.
They also had noted the special meeting warning had not included an article on whether to keep the cupola or not, but rather just the article on one possible funding measure.
Viskup said selectmen were in agreement at their Sept. 13 meeting that they should obtain an estimate from the McKernon Group on the latest proposal. Panton already has in hand almost $30,000 set aside for roof repair, and selectmen believe they can come up with a little extra to finish the roof. 
“We all were on the same frequency here,” he said.
Viskup said he hopes the estimate will come in at a workable amount, and he was optimistic that cupola removal and storage might be in the same ballpark as demolition and disposal.
“Who knows,” he said. “It might be cheaper.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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