Like most moving days, the selectmen’s move from the temporary trailer into the newly renovated town offices was a little chaotic.
But, as they worked to organize their new space, the selectmen were pleased with the results of the project, which was completed three weeks ahead of schedule.
“I think E.L. Shea [the general contractor on the job] did a superb job,” said Albie Smith, the chairman of the board of selectmen. “It’s going to be very functional.”
Selectman Mike Roy agreed that they did a “really nice job…I’m real happy with it.”
Roy noted that the design of the renovation used the existing space. The result, however, looks not at all like the original two-room schoolhouse that had changed very little over the years.
Selectman Deborah Brewster said she was very happy with the reorganization of the various office areas.
“It’s going to be wonderful,” she said. “If it solved the acoustics problem, I’ll be happy. It was really hard to hear in the old configuration.”
The project, budgeted at $300,000, created a totally new interior for the building. The new meeting room is the centerpiece, straddling what had been the dividing line between the two classrooms. In addition to serving as a meeting space for the various town boards and committees, the room also can be converted for use as a polling place for municipal and general elections.
According to Smith, the meeting room table breaks down into four separate pieces, each with a function for voting. When it’s reconfigured that way, voters will enter the front door of the room, move through the different stations and exit at the rear.
Voting has been done at the fire station for a number of years, according to Smith.
“Voting will return to the town office,” he said.
There is a waiting area at the front entrance to the building and there are offices down each side of the meeting room, with the treasurer and selectmen located on one side and the tax collector, code enforcement officer and town clerk on the other. The building has two new features indoors: a handicapped-accessible restroom and a map room that will hold the town tax maps. That room also will have a copy machine which will allow residents to view and copy maps.
There also will be new file space at the rear of the building.
Last week, Roy was busy reconfiguring upgraded computers throughout the renovated office space. The project also included the addition of a new server. Stored in the vault in the adjacent Keeping Society building, the server will provide secure backup and storage for town business.
Outside, the building got a paint job, but the real change is the handicapped ramp that was added providing access to the front door of the building.
“Without any landscaping, it’s a big presence,” Smith said. “We’ve had some comments about it, and not all have been positive.”
Smith noted that because of the height of the front door, the ramp had to be 56 feet long. The committee that worked on the project felt that it was important that everybody could enter the building by the front door.
“There weren’t going to be any second-class citizens who had to enter through the back door,” he said.
Workers were expected back at the town office to complete some last details inside the building. The selectmen also are talking with landscapers and the local garden club about how to landscape the property. They also will look at designs for a sign that will mark not only the town office, but the fire department, the Keeping Society and the veterans memorial, as well. Those projects will be scheduled for completion in the spring.