Selectmen move forward on plans for new town office
With the purchase of the former American Legion building on South Village Road complete, Loudon’s selectmen are moving forward with plans to build a new town office building at that location.
The first hurdle is getting rid of the building that’s already there.
“We were hoping to have it gone by midsummer, and in the meantime we’ll form a committee and start coming up with proposals for a new town office to go on that site,” said Dustin Bowles, chairman of the board of selectmen.
The town offices have operated from an old home also on South Village Road since 1981, but the space is no longer as practical and efficient as it was then. There is barely any room left to store files and paperwork, and the lobby isn’t big enough to hold the long lines of people who come in during high-traffic times such as tax collection season, said Selectman Bob Krieger. In the summer, the building becomes so hot that computers nearly overheat, and in the winter it doesn’t hold in warmth well. The two-story building has only a narrow and steep set of stairs, and overall is “archaic and cramped,” Krieger said.
“It’s a nice building, it’s gotten by a lot of years,” Bowles said. But “we’ve run right out of space to hold our records and so forth.”
The selectmen are accepting proposals to remove the American Legion building through today. If no one responds, Colin Cabot, the owner of Sanborn Mills Farm, has offered to take the building. The selectmen will then form a committee to draw up plans for a new building. Pending approval from the voters next week, money for the project will come from the Town Office Building Capital Reserve Fund.
“We’ve been putting $100,000 a year into that capital reserve, and we should have somewhere in-between $700,000 and $800,000 in that after town meeting,” Bowles said.
The process of securing the American Legion property began about a year ago when voters approved a warrant giving the selectmen the power to purchase or sell buildings and land. They began negotiating with the American Legion last fall to buy the property, and bought the building for $180,000, which came from the capital reserve fund. The sale was finalized in mid-February.
The capital reserve fund has been collecting money since 2004. About seven years ago, a committee began planning for a new town office building. In the end, the town wasn’t fully behind the project, but those plans will serve as a framework this time around.
Most importantly, the new building will be bigger and only one story. The new property backs up to the town’s recreational fields, which will make the area into a nice town complex, Bowles said.
Once the town office moves, the historical society and other community offices will likely move into the old space. The building itself has historical value; it is one of the town’s few original stone houses, and the historical society could use more space to display pieces of town history, said President Ron Lane. The group currently has one room in Charlie’s Barn, the town meeting hall, and most of its artifacts are packed away in boxes.
“They have a lot of stuff that nobody can see,” Krieger said. “So they will be moving into this building and hopefully be able to set things up more; it’d be a great location for them.”