At the time Wales built the New Elementary School, the offices of the historic Town Hall were moved into the former Elementary School where they have been ever since. Over the years, the condition of the building reached the point where it is structurally no longer safe. During yesterday’s meeting of the BOS, Fire Chief Paul Morin announced that he intends to condemn the building and declare it unsafe and that he will do so July 3rd, 2011, just before this year’s National Independence Day.
For quite some time, Wales has been considering buying the building located on 2 Main Street in Wales and formed a committee to plan the purchase, the remodeling process and finally the move of the Town Hall to the new location. The committee was fittingly named “2 Main Street” committee.
Michael Valanzola welcomed the 62 attending residents of Wales and introduced Leis Phinney, Assistant Town Clerk, assistant Town Treasurer and member of the “2 Main Street Committee” who gave an introduction and explained all the details involved in connection with the “2 Main Street” proposal for the New Town Hall.
The current owners and town officials are willing to convey the 2 Main Street property for $580,000. To renovate the 8,000 sf building and alter the interior for Town Hall use another $714,000 are needed. The cost of the project of $1,443,600 would be financed by issuing municipal bonds with an annual yield of 1.5% adding another $149,000 for the 15 year loan bringing the total to $1,443,600.
A special Town meeting is slated for next Tuesday January 11, 2011, to have the voters decide whether a majority is in favor of the debt exclusion and another vote is thereafter nessessary to authorize the Board of Selectmen to borrow $1,443,600 to finance the project.
The debt exclusion would be added on top of the proposition 2-1/2 increase. The tax increase would be 57 cents per $1,000 assessed property value, or $57 for every $100,000 in property value for the next 15 years.
After Leis Phinney and others finished their presentation, Valanzola opened the floor for questions.
Valanzola plans to close on the purchase of the 2 Main Street property on March 31, 2011. The town plans to offset the cost by selling the building that served as Elementary School and is now the Town Hall after the move. John Lussier, the new Building Inspector of Wales, described the Post and Beam construction as a, “stellar example of American craftsman ship”" after a close inspection. The building is leaning towards the back due to rotted sill beams.
In case Wales voters reject the 2 Main Street proposal, Dave Worth announced last night that he will propose two alternative solutions.
Leon Givner taped the meeting and will transmitt the meeting on the PEG channel 5 for interested parties who where unable to attend.
January 6, 2011, Peter Frei
A State Inspector condemned the second story of the Wales Town Hall at 3 Hollow Road, leaving the Wales Police Department (WPD) and different boards (building inspector, Board of Health, Cemetery Commission and Planning Board) without a home.
Chairman of the Board of Selectman, Michael Valanzola, suggested relocating the WPD to ensure uninterrupted public safety and availability of services by the WPD to the basement of the Senior Center.
A heated discussion started after 33 individuals waited 12 minutes for Jeff Vannais, who arrived late.
Several individuals accused Michael Valanzola and the other board members of not having a backup plan for the situation the town finds itself in after voters rejected the proposal to buy the 2 Main Street location.
Senior Center Director Judith M. Jegelewicz claimed that such a use would be in violation of the conditions under which the town received grant money for the Senior Center, and was afraid that the relocated WPD would interfere with daily operations of the Senior Center. To build the center the town received $600,000 in block grant money under the condition that the center would be used exclusively as a Senior center, and not for political or other business until March of 2012, when the five year period of the restriction expires.
Other ideas were brought up; like renting another building temporarily, or fixing the town hall so it could still be used. Ray Coach, soon to be co-owner of the “2 Main Street” property, offered to let the town use 4,000sf of the 2 Main Street location in lieu of the property taxes due for the property.
Valanzola informed Mr. Coach that such deals would be outside the realm of the Board’s authority.
Eventually, chair Valanzola made a motion to temporarily relocate the WPD to the basement of the Senior Center.
Selectman Rich Learned informed the participants of the meeting, that it was he who called the state inspector, and was opposed to the idea and voted against the proposal. Jeff Vannais joined Valanzola and voted in favor and the motion passed.
During the discussion it became clear that the staircase to the second floor was unsafe and needed to be fixed before equipment and furniture, like heavy fireproof file cabinets, could be moved out of the structurally unsafe building.
By unanimous vote, the Board of Selectmen accepted a motion to instruct the building inspector to look into fixing the stairs to the second floor. The first floor will still be used as it was not condemned by the state inspector.
Valanzola and the two other members intend to make modifications and reductions to the “2 Main Street” proposal rejected by the voters on February 8, 2011, and bring it up again as an article on the annual town meeting warrant in May.
When Valanzola talked about making reductions and said that they would also talk to the owners to see if there would be any “wiggle room” for negotiations, I noticed Ray Coach shaking his head in firm disagreement.
March 5, 2011, Peter Frei