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The Waitsfield Town Office Task Force wants to hear from the public about which of two locations should be the site of the town’s new offices.
The task force is holding a public meeting to consider two options for a new town office on December 11 at the Waitsfield Elementary School at 7 p.m.
Appointed by the Waitsfield Select Board in 2010, the Task Force was charged with evaluating locations for a new town office and to bring a recommendation to the select board. The existing office space, located in the basement of the Joslin Memorial Library, has long been identified as deficient to serve the town’s needs. Alternative locations have been studied beginning in the early 1980s, and relocating or expanding the office has been in the town’s capital budget for the past 20 years.
After analyzing space needs and evaluating several sites in Irasville and Waitsfield Village – and holding several public meetings and reaching out to citizens and area landowners – the town allocated funds in 2011 to select an appropriate site. With the help of William Maclay Architects and Planners and with extensive input from town residents, the Task Force narrowed the options down to four sites in Waitsfield Village.
After lengthy discussion at this year’s Town Meeting, Waitsfield voters appropriated additional funds to select a site and prepare a development proposal to present to the voters. Several competitive bids to assist with this work were received and the town selected Maclay Architects.
After additional public meetings and site visits, the town entered into an option to purchase the 0.85-acre Farm Stand parcel from Wrenn Compere.
According to Brian Shupe, spokesperson for the committee, the site was selected for several reasons:
The cost of development – due to its development potential and price, it was determined that building on this site would be more cost effective than other options, including building on the town-owned Wait House Parcel;
Its development suitability, including ample septic capacity and the ability to design a building to meet today’s needs with plenty of future expansion potential;
Its central, accessible location in Waitsfield Village, and the potential to strengthen the village streetscape and pedestrian character; and
Its proximity to the adjacent town-owned “polo field,” and the ability to enhance public use and enjoyment of that property through improved access, parking, restrooms and related amenities.
“As part of the process of preparing preliminary development plans for the building, some town residents expressed concern that the former Methodist Church (Luminosity building) should have been given greater consideration. The Task Force agreed, and efforts began to study the feasibility of purchasing that building and converting it to a town office. Arguments in favor of that building include the opportunity to renovate an attractive historic structure its proximity to Bridge Street and overall central location in the Waitsfield Village, and enough interior space to accommodate large public meetings and future expansion needs,” Shupe explained.
The Task Force will make a recommendation on final site selection to the select board based on input gathered at this and previous public meetings, as well as the results of the investigation carried out by Maclay Architects. This recommendation may lead to a bond vote at the March Town Meeting to establish funding for the final design and construction of a new town office facility.
The Task Force is soliciting advice from town residents and landowners at the December 11 meeting. At that meeting, preliminary building and site designs and cost estimates will be presented for discussion. Costs for the church building have come in at an estimated $2,435,224, while costs for the Flemer Farm Stand parcel are estimated at $1,612,588.
Members of the Town Office Task Force include Sandra Gallup, Charlie Hosford, Jennifer Peterson, John Reilly, Brian Shupe and Brian Voigt.