Canterbury town office building starting to take shape

  • Framing for the roof and walls has been completed at the new Canterbury town office building as of Monday, June 4, 2018. JACOB DAWSON / Monitor staff

  • A side view of the new Canterbury town office building shows the new conference room addition at the back of the building (left). Jacob Dawson / Monitor staff

  • Construction of the new Canterbury town office building has started in the back of the town square. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Construction of the new Canterbury town office building has started in the back of the town square. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Construction of the new Canterbury town office building has started in the back of the town square. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/10/2018 6:28:20 PM

Town Administrator Ken Folsom said Canterbury is making progress on what he calls the cheapest town office building in the area.

The new town office building is being constructed on the site of the old building and is coming in at a contracted cost of $400,000. The town has budgeted an extra $20,000 for contingencies.

According to Folsom, more than four years ago, Canterbury’s select board recognized the need for a new town office, which was built in the late 1800s and added onto in the 1970s.

“With animals living under there, all the problems that go along with an old building ... they recognized that we needed to do some work to the building,” Folsom said.

Now, as the building heads toward a fall completion, it’s starting to take shape.

The committee struggled with finding the right contractor, according to Folsom, who said they went back and forth with different bids until they found the right fit for the money.

The town partnered with a local man, Mark Hopkins, who works with Folsom to organize the subcontracting.

“By making the town the general contractor, we were able to save about $60,000 in overhead costs,” Hopkins said. Folsom said he and Hopkins did nearly all the organization on the project.

Members of the historical committee who serve on the town office construction committee wanted to preserve the space, and because of that, the new building will be the same size as the old but with all the modern amenities and proper layout.

The biggest change, Folsom said, is a 500-square-foot conference room that is being added onto the back of the space.

“Pretty much, the footprint of the building, the main building, is going to be the same as the old building,” he said.

The old building had a second floor used for files, Folsom said, but per Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, the new building would have to either move the files to the first floor or put in an elevator.

“We didn’t want to get into that,” he said. “We’ve reconfigured some of the offices. The new building will have enough space to house everything and include all the file storage on one floor.”

Folsom said he is most excited for a building that doesn’t require hay bales to be laid around it during the winter to block the wind, or desks that need a space heater to keep his feet warm.

“The old building was a house. It was somebody’s house, and it was renovated,” Folsom said. “Now, again, the floor plan isn’t going to change that much, but enough to make it more usable for the purpose.”

Folsom also said a private space being planned will be a great help for people like the welfare officer, who needs to have closed-door meetings.

Since the demolition of the old building in April, the town offices have been set up in the nearby town hall. The space they are currently using was the only building spared from a fire in the 1940s that destroyed most of the buildings in the town’s historical center, making it one of the oldest in Canterbury.

Folsom estimated that with the snow in April, the town office project is about a week behind schedule, but he’s still expecting a move-in date of Oct. 1.

“We were pretty conservative on the construction schedule,” Folsom said. “We wanted to give everyone plenty of time to get the work done.”

He said that with the exception of the conference room, the square footage of the new space will be “almost exactly the same.” Hours and staff will also remain the same.

(Jacob Dawson can be reached at 369-3325, or on Twitter @jaked156.)

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