Moretown officials are correct to proceed with caution on the matter of rebuilding or relocating the town offices.
Moretown’s town office – a tiny building located in the village – was inundated during flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. The building was destroyed and, most disturbing, the town’s land use records and other important historical documents were severely damaged, some past restoration.
The records were frozen, some are recovered, some are lost and some are still in process. The work of running the town of Moretown was undertaken at the town’s fire department in the interim, but that is ending now.
As the town select board works its way through figuring out a new home for the town offices, town employees are being relocated to space at the Moretown Landfill on Route 2.
Among the things under consideration by the select board are lands already owned by the town such as a rec field behind the destroyed town office, the Moretown Town Hall, staying at the Moretown Landfill and town-owned land on Fox Farm Road.
All those sites have pluses and minuses, but here are some things that should weigh heavily.
Town offices and, more importantly, town records do not belong in the flood plain. Not the 100-year flood plain or the 500-year flood plain. Moretown’s Town Hall will never be the right place for storing town records, given its proximity to the river.
Town offices do belong in a town’s most central village area when possible. Having the town offices at the Moretown Landfill will work for a temporary fix, but town offices belong where the people and the post office and the school and the library are located – in the village.
Maybe the town garage (located in the village) does need to move and town offices could be built/renovated in that space. Maybe the rec field will provide a better option, or the land on Fox Farm Road.
It’s worth taking the time to get it right because it’s clear where town offices don’t belong.