The Waitsfield Select Board met with the General Wait House Committee on August 23 to discuss options for restoration, renovations and expansion, and management of the historical property located on Main Street. The committee has been meeting throughout the summer, though two members have resigned and progress has been delayed. They have been tasked with reviewing, researching and recommending future options for the General Wait House. They were originally slated to present a plan to execute the scope of work on September 30, but the board voted to delay that presentation until its January 10 meeting with a progress report due by the end of this month.
The committee will develop a plan to be voted on at Town Meeting Day to enact much-needed renovations of the building, review current tenant leases and develop a long-term plan for use and maintenance of the building. The committee identified heating issues, roof replacement, plumbing issues, new windows and other necessary repairs, as well as determining the property management and rental agreements going forward. The schedule for raising rents as outlined in the original purchase agreement for the building has not been followed, the committee reported.
“The town has neglected its duties up to this point,” select board chair Jon Jamieson said. “The intent is to come up with a solution that serves the building better and serves the taxpayers better -- it’s a huge task. We thought we were going to get going faster than we did.”
There is approximately $6,500 in the town budget to address the immediate repairs needed to the building, which was built in 1793, expanded and moved to its present location in the 1830s, and purchased by the town of Waitsfield in 1995.
“We thought when we bought the building that it would be self-sustaining,” select board member Brian Shupe said. “We haven’t created the revenue stream to make that happen. We do need to do restoration. We’re definitely going to need some revenue stream for the building and that’s going to take a different management structure and a different use structure than we have now because what we have now isn’t sustainable.”
The committee will present on short-term needs for the building, as well as a long-term plan. “It’s up to the committee to come up with a solution,” select board member Jordan Gonda said. “We’re looking for multi-faceted recommendations that use some of these concepts to leverage better use for the town but also a sustainable funding stream.”