Whately to vote on Town Hall project
If OK’d, then vote on debt exclusion will be part of annual election
WHATELY — Before the historic white clapboard meeting house finally transforms into the newly renovated and expanded Town Hall, residents will be asked again to give their support one last time to the two-year project at annual town meeting on April 29.
Townspeople will be asked to approve $3.8 million to rehabilitate and expand the 1844 historic Town Hall on Chestnut Plain Road. The money would support final designs by Jones Whitsett Architects of Greenfield and construction.
The town is hoping to offset some of the cost with Community Preservation Act money and private donations and grants. The Community Preservation Committee is asking townspeople to approve $50,000 per year for the next 20 years for the project.
If voters appropriate the money at town meeting, they will be asked to vote one more time on a debt exclusion to borrow the $3.8 million at the annual election on June 10.
After that, the town would be ready to send the project out to bid.
On April 16 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall, residents can learn about the project at an informational meeting.
The project would add an extra 3,900 square feet to the building. It would include a two-story addition plus a basement that could be used for meeting space. The second-floor assembly hall would also be kept intact and be restored as the meeting place — a desire from the historical commission. The assembly hall could also be rented out for other cultural events.
The project would erase many existing problems with the building, including a lack of elevators to provide access to the second floor, uninsulated walls and rot and animal droppings in the attic. The project would address the lack of storage or service space and add two extra offices.
The project has been in the works for about two years.
In November 2012, 57 percent of voters chose to rehabilitate and expand the building during a straw poll. At the 2013 town meeting, residents approved $172,889 for Jones Whitsett to do design plans and produce bid ready documents.
This year’s request has backing from the Community Preservation Committee, the Selectmen, the Historical Commission, the Planning Board and the Municipal Building Committee.
You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.