News

Addison discussing $2M Town Hall renovation at Thursday public meeting

THE 153-YEAR-OLD Addison Town Hall is in need of a lot of work, an a town committee hopes residents will come to a public meeting this Thursday, May 26, to discuss what can be done.

“After decades of work were are finally poised to bring it back to life as the Town Clerk’s office and a community space … We would like your input and ideas.”

ADDISON — Addison residents have already backed spending $500,000 for a communal septic system that had the central purposes of enabling the town to regain possession of its former town hall on Route 22A and providing it with septic service.

Now, according to the members of the Addison Town Hall Committee, it’s time to decide whether to bond for another $2 million to transform the historic 150-year-old building into a town meeting space and clerk’s office.

The selectboard-appointed committee, chaired by John Spencer, has been working on that project for more than a decade, and the town has been mulling what to do with the building for decades.

The next steps are a pair of 45-minute public meetings in the building, one of which was held this past Saturday and one set for this Thursday at 7 p.m. The agenda for each includes a history of the building, an explanation of the need for the work and its cost, discussion of next steps, and time for public feedback.

The committee sent out about 40 invitations to town officials and other stakeholders, but Spencer made it clear that these are public meetings to which all are welcome to learn more about the project.

The invitation reads, “After decades of work were are finally poised to bring it back to life as the Town Clerk’s office and a community space … We would like your input and ideas to help us restore this historic building to its former place in the life of Addison.”

Spencer said, as committee members expected, attendance was limited at Saturday’s meeting, when about a half-dozen residents showed up to hear and then discuss the committee’s presentation. They expect at better turnout at Thursday’s weeknight gathering.

But he described the give-and-take as helpful, with suggestions on how to hone and spread the group’s message and make sure the needs for a clerk’s office were met. Many suggestions were along the lines of what committee members had already been thinking, Spencer said.

“It was reinforcement,” he said.

Spencer said the structure has been determined to be sound, but the three-story building is essentially a shell, with no plumbing or heating and minimal electricity — “two outlets” on the first floor, he said, meaning online attendance at meetings is not possible.

Architects have come up with plans that include an addition with a stairway and elevator, one large upper-story meeting room and two smaller meeting rooms, ample work and storage space for the clerk, assistant clerk and town listers, and a large vault.

Town officials have long said the nearby existing one-story clerk’s office has inadequate work, storage and meeting space.

Addison might be receiving the Addison Central School building back from the Addison Northwest School District in the months to come, but Spencer said the building is not well suited for municipal needs. He added the committee believes the town would be better served selling the building and adding it to the tax roll, possibly thus also creating an employment hub.

The price tag for a similar decade-old plan to renovate Addison’s former town hall stood at around $1 million, but now is around $2.4 million. Spencer said the past couple years of dramatic inflation in the construction field in particular pushed costs higher.

Offsetting the full price tag would be $300,000 of Addison’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, plus another $75,000 Bruhn Grant for historical preservation.

Spencer said other grants are possible, including Housing and Urban Development Agency accessibility support for the elevator and a Northern Border Regional Commission community development award. The Addison County Regional Planning Commission is helping the town apply for those, he said.

The odds for getting those or other grants will increase if Addison voters support a bond to pay for the project, Spencer said. He noted Vergennes received more grant support for its sewer project after residents backed it at the polls.

According to Town Hall Committee estimates, if town voters were to approve a bond for about $2.07 million, and there were no more grants awarded, and Addison paid that loan back over 30 years at a municipal rate of 2%, that would mean an annual payment just short of $92,000.

Making that payment would add 4.36 cents to the town’s municipal tax rate, translating to about $87 a year in new taxes on a $200,000 home.

Spencer emphasized the town would be pursuing more funding.

“We’re already looking for more grants,” he said.

Spencer added he believed these two meetings were the just the beginning of the public process.

“This will be a start of many meetings to explain this long needed project,” he said.

Share this story:

More News
News

Truck fire halts Route 7 traffic in North Ferrisburgh on Monday

Firefighters closed Route 7 in North Ferrisburgh Monday afternoon after the responded to a … (read more)

News

Local firefighters rescue Central Vt. flood survivors

Firefighters from Vergennes, Ferrisburgh and Middlebury who were specially trained in wate … (read more)

Homepage Featured News

Bear sightings on the rise around county

The number of bears in Vermont is higher than it’s been in 200 years. More and more Addiso … (read more)

Share this story: