Montague Selectboard OKs feasibility study for art studios, meeting spaces at Town Hall annex, basement

  • The annex behind Montague Town Hall Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • The annex behind Montague Town Hall. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 6/19/2022 4:03:00 PM
Modified: 6/19/2022 4:00:36 PM

MONTAGUE — Hopeful to implement art studios and meeting spaces in Town Hall’s basement and annex, town officials authorized a $28,500 feasibility study and conceptual design project at last week’s Selectboard meeting.

The project, funded by a Regional Economic Development Organization (REDO) grant from the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, will be carried out by Northampton-based Thomas Douglas Architects. The scope of work includes a space needs assessment, creation of up to three conceptual designs, rough scheduling, cost estimation, a structural assessment and a MEP/FP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection) assessment. The studies are expected to occur this fall, with interim and final presentations to the Selectboard expected as progress is made.

The idea to renovate the annex arose as part of the town’s 2021 Downtown Rapid Recovery Plan. The space had been vacated by the Department of Public Works in October 2020. The plan states the building is in “good condition,” particularly following the addition of a new roof in 2019.

Regardless of what the space may become, the plan anticipates the reuse project to cost upwards of $200,000 and take five to 10 years to complete.

Meanwhile, the basement of Town Hall, which formerly served as a police station, has since been targeted for eventual remediation due to moisture concerns. A separate portion of the basement received a $20,000 allocation from the Community Development Discretionary Fund to aid with renovations with the Selectboard’s approval last week.

As he initially discussed the prospect of renovating the annex last November, Town Planner Walter Ramsey said there are “pretty substantial portions that are sitting there in a vacant state ready for re-use.” The town, he said, wants to transform the annex into a space used for “something more than storage.” As an example, he brought up the idea of transforming it into a community television studio.

“It’s got a lot of potential, so we want to make sure we can maximize the use of that for public benefit,” Ramsey said previously.

The areas, which are lightly used for storage, office space and garage space, would be “renovated into space for town assembly for up to 80 people and flexible-use artist spaces,” according to Thomas Douglas Architects’ proposal.

“When I say assembly meeting space,” Ramsey elaborated, “it could be a proper Selectboard conference room, for example, that could accommodate people safely, with people able to distance somewhat.”

“Additionally, office space and storage are to be provided,” Thomas Douglas Architects’ proposal continues.

While the existing structure will remain intact, the firm noted that improvements that may be required include new doors, windows, a building envelope (the structural barrier between the interior and exterior of a building) at the walls and floor, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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