As The Valley Reporter went to press on January 16, members of the Waitsfield Town Office Task Force were presenting new cost estimates for the two sites under consideration for a new town office – and the cost of building new is still about $750,000 less than rehabilitating the former Methodist church building.

After over 100 people attended a public hearing in December to weigh in on where the new town offices should be, the task force heeded the request for a more detailed cost analysis of rehabilitating the church versus building a new building on a parcel of land known as the Farm Stand parcel.

The town has an option to purchase the Farm Stand parcel from the Flemer family for $100,000. The listed purchase price for the church is $450,000. At the December meeting there was a great deal of support voiced for rehabilitating the church, despite what was then thought to be an $800,000 cost differential between a new building and the church.

Those present suggested that there might be historic preservation grants and other monies available to offset the cost difference.

Task force architects went back to the drawing board for another look at costs, revising plans for both sites to minimize costs. The building at the Farm Stand parcel was reduced in size by 800 square feet and estimated with clapboard siding versus brick or stone. The church project was reconfigured to put all the town offices on one floor and leave two-thirds of the second story unfinished.

The bottom line?

New construction at the Farm Stand parcel, including purchasing the land: $1,632,422.

Rehabilitating the church: $2,402,026, including the $450,000 asking price for the church. The detailed cost analysis was prepared by Erickson Consulting.

The $769,604 cost differential might be reduced by $162,240 if the second floor of the church is left unfinished and an elevator car is not installed.

The new data, presented at this week’s meeting, also indicated that historic preservation grants for the church project would be unlikely to exceed $20,000 and, further, that community block grants would not be available for the church project, other than ADA upgrades.