First repairs to Plainfield Town Hall to be done by year’s end
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo Plainfield Select Board Chairman Dave Strong, right, and contractor Ernie Parrish of Green Line Builders in Calais examine some of the structural issues needing attention in the attic of the Plainfield Town Hall on Thursday. A group of officials and others toured the historic building to see what work is needed.
PLAINFIELD — Though the Town Hall will not reopen in time for town meeting in March, repair work on the historic building is churning along and the first part should be completed before the end of the year.
Select Board Chairman Dave Strong led a tour of the repairs on the 150-year-old building for the rest of the Select Board and Caitlin Corkins with the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation on Thursday.
Corkins was getting her first look at the building, having joined the division in September to head the state’s historic preservation grant program. She was also there to rewrite the agreement the state had with the town because more repairs were needed than initially thought.
The state had given the town $19,600 in a matching grant for repairs to the hall’s roof and floor and to properly support the balcony. Strong said it was discovered another floor beam had rotted out that would cost an extra $2,000 to repair. There is enough money in the town’s budget to cover the repair, Strong said.
Work on the roof was needed because it was not supported correctly and has shifted about a foot toward the back of the building. The contractor in charge of the roof repairs, Ernie Parrish with Green Line Builders of Calais, said he expects the work to be completed by Dec. 31.
From there the project will focus on the floors and securing the balcony. The balcony was built by attaching it to the roof and has caused the roof to sag. The solution will be to build supporting posts from the foundation, up through the main floor and to the balcony.
The next phase of the repairs will focus on the basement. Strong said there are mold and drainage issues that need to be addressed.
The town was awarded a matching grant of $28,000 from the Vermont Arts Council in August to fix the basement. Strong said the grant will need to be approved at town meeting in March. A plan on how to attack the problems in the basement will also have to be voted on.
The town will have to come up with $28,000 of its own, since the arts council funding is a matching grant. Strong said he is the process of raising that money. He sees the building more as a performance space than a municipal building, so Strong said he will be appealing to the arts community to help raise the money.
Corkins said the sooner the basement is fixed, the better.
“Dealing with the drainage problem is vital, otherwise ... whatever they put in is going to rot,” she said.
Strong had previously said that once the roof is fixed and the mold and drainage problems are remedied the hall can be reopened.
The town has received legislative approval to hold its next town meeting at Twinfield Union School in Marshfield. Towns, by law, must hold town meetings within their borders, unless permission to do otherwise is granted.
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