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The need for a larger Waitsfield Town Office facility was identified more than 30 years ago, but efforts to address it continued to be put off year after year. Now, in 2012, it cannot be put off any longer. Article 10 on the Waitsfield annual meeting warning asks voters to support funding for the continued study of sites for a new town office and resources to bring the selected site forward to voters in 2013 for a bond vote.
The town office has occupied the lower level of the Joslin Memorial Library building since 1972. The vault is out of space to store the town’s vital, historic and land records. Space for day-to-day records storage, supplies and basic operations is increasingly stressed. Financial and other records of prior years are stored off-site in a rented, non-heated storage unit. The town office is not accessible to persons using wheelchairs. The space flooded in 1998 and 2011. Meeting space in general is inadequate and daytime meetings frequently conflict with needs of researchers. The Joslin Library also needs more space.
The need for a new vault was first included in the capital plan in 1990 and new town office space has been included every year since 1998. Though digital records will allow for easier access, state law (24 Chapter 35 VSA 1152-1178) requires physical copies of town records to be stored in a fireproof vault.
The Town Office Task Force was appointed by the select board in fall of 2010. Sites and buildings were initially screened based on whether they could physically accommodate a town office to meet current and future needs. Following a public meeting in February 2011, three sites were selected for further evaluation: (1) expansion of the Joslin Memorial Library; (2) a new building between the General Wait House and the fire station; and (3) the Flemer property adjacent to the town-owned Flemer Field Community Green. The library has since been removed from the list due to lack of parking, lack of septic, threats of future flooding and the desire to select a location that will suit the community’s needs for the next 100 years. Potential sites in Irasville were identified at a recent meeting that will be given further consideration.
Funds are in the 2012 budget to continue to evaluate prospective sites, solicit more public input, refine findings and cost estimates, and ultimately present a recommendation to the select board. Regardless which site is selected, more in-depth design, engineering, and citizen input will be needed to bring it forward for a bond vote. Please vote yes on Article 10 to keep this important initiative moving forward.
Town Office Task Force Members: John Reilly, Joslin Library; Sandra Gallup, former clerk/treasurer; Brian Voigt, Planning Commission; Brian Shupe, Development Review Board; Charles Hosford, Select Board; Jennifer Peterson, clerk/treasurer; Valerie Capels, town administrator.