Article seeks to start Town House repairs.
BOYLSTON - The Town House has a unique connection to the town's residents, Selectmen Chairman Kenneth Sydow said, as is shown by its name. The building was built by a group of town residents, who wanted the town to have a place where people could hold events and to get together as a community.
"A lot of people still have pictures of their parents and grandparents working on the building," Sydow said. "There's an emotional connection there."
And now a new generation is stepping up to keep the building in useful condition, with help from town meeting voters.
Next week, a proposed town meeting article would create an account and fund it with $50,000 for the purpose of renovating the Town House. But the money will not go to a specific or already designated project. Instead, the fund would be used to support those civic groups and town residents who have volunteered to do projects in the building.
"It's a great building that needs some help," Sydow said.
Sydow and Finance Committee David Butler have noted a number of groups, from Scouts, to the Garden Club to the Lions Club, all have willing volunteers to provide labor for specific projects, but lack the money needed for materials.
The idea ultimately saves the town an undetermined - but assumed large - amount of money. That's because, the labor would be done by volunteers. Otherwise, projects would be subject to bidding laws and prevailing wage.
Under the article as written, selectmen can disperse money for materials as projects come forward. If the idea proves successful, more money can be requested at future town meetings. Larger projects, like replacing windows or changing the electric heat to gas to save money on utilities, would likely need to be bid out, but the goal is to do as much of the work needed to refurbish the building with as little money as possible.
It is also believed that, if residents see the work being done, they may be more likely to support larger projects later.
Among the first projects proposed are the painting of and replacing the carpets in the downstairs area. Also planned is the replacement of the residential stoves with commercial grade kitchen equipment already purchased by the Lions Club when the old Tahanto building closed.
Immediate work upstairs could be painting and repairs to walls, touching up the floors. The chair lift from the ground floor to the second floor also needs to be replaced.
"We'll be picking away at it for a number of years," Butler said. "But this is a good start. It's a step in the right direction refreshing the building."
PHOTOG: Banner photo/MICHAEL KANE
CUTLINE: One of the first projects on the list for the Town House restoration is replacing the kitchen's current set-up with commercial equipment.