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Whately voters back Town Hall renovation

WHATELY — Fifty-seven percent of Whately voters want the Town Hall to be renovated rather than replaced with a new building.

The Municipal Building Committee conducted a straw poll on Election Day asking residents whether they would prefer a renovation of the historic Town Hall or a new building. Both would cost $3 million.

According to Friday’s vote count, 402 voters chose to renovate, 153 voters chose a new building and 150 voters did not have enough information or selected both options.

A total 705 votes were cast in the straw poll. This compares to 890 ballots cast in the presidential election.

The nonbinding poll results will help the town decide what to do with its Town Hall. The committee chose Election Day because of its traditional turnout.

The town is looking to revamp its Town Hall and its out-of-date infrastructure. Existing problems with the Chestnut Plain Road building include a lack of elevators to provide access to the second floor, uninsulated walls as well as rot and animal droppings in the attic. The Town Hall also does not have enough storage or service space and needs two extra offices.

In December, the town hired Margo Jones Architects of Greenfield for $28,000 to come up with a feasibility study of what the town needs.

The two options residents had to choose between were a $3 million renovation or a new 7,500-square-foot building on Christian Lane or on State Road at the site of the former DiMaio Restaurant.

The renovation would add another 3,400 square feet to the existing building, office space to the first floor and second floor and install new restrooms and an elevator, add septic and paving and a new selectmen’s meeting room. It would also increase the mechanical space to 1,000 square feet.

A new single-story construction would include office and meeting space to accommodate 200 people and meet storage needs.

This process will likely take two years. At the April town meeting, residents will vote to fund a design.

The building committee will hold its next meeting Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall to discuss next steps.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 268

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