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Jaffrey town office in need of repair

  • The second floor of the Jaffrey Town Office is in need of repair, according to town officials. But in anticipation of one day building a new building on the existent downtown site, the Select Board discussed last week how to move forward.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    The second floor of the Jaffrey Town Office is in need of repair, according to town officials. But in anticipation of one day building a new building on the existent downtown site, the Select Board discussed last week how to move forward.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

  • Jaffrey selectmen discuss the future of the town offices at the present site downtown.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Jaffrey selectmen discuss the future of the town offices at the present site downtown.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

  • Jaffrey selectmen discuss the future of the town offices at the present site downtown.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Jaffrey selectmen discuss the future of the town offices at the present site downtown.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

  • Jaffrey selectmen discuss the future of the town offices at the present site downtown.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Jaffrey selectmen discuss the future of the town offices at the present site downtown.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

  • The second floor of the Jaffrey Town Office is in need of repair, according to town officials. But in anticipation of one day building a new building on the existent downtown site, the Select Board discussed last week how to move forward.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Jaffrey selectmen discuss the future of the town offices at the present site downtown.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Jaffrey selectmen discuss the future of the town offices at the present site downtown.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Jaffrey selectmen discuss the future of the town offices at the present site downtown.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

JAFFREY — Construction to improve handicap accessibility at the entrance to the town office has been delayed until spring 2013. In the meantime, the Select Board is grappling with what to do about the sloping floor boards on the building’s second floor.

Former Jaffrey Town Manager Mike Hartman, who worked his last day for the town on Friday, told the Select Board at a special meeting on Dec. 13 that the town will submit a second request for proposals in early 2013 for the construction of a new concrete walkway, ramp, canopy and doors at the entrance to the town office. The town submitted the same request for proposals this fall, but only one contractor responded with an estimated construction cost far exceeding the $25,000 voters had approved for the project at the 2011 Town Meeting, Hartman said.

While the town awaits those improvements, ongoing structural issues with the existing building have the Select Board debating its next move and possible solutions to the problem. Last week, the board discussed whether or not to make necessary repairs to prolong the use of the second floor, or to move the existing office space on the upper floor to the first floor and find another community meeting room.

“We’ve been telling taxpayers for four years or longer that this building is not acceptable anymore,” said Select Board Member Kathy Batchelder. “I’m tired of paying for Band-aides. ...It’s time to say that we are not spending money on a building that we are going to tear down some day.”

Town officials brought forward a warrant article in 2011 to raise and appropriate up to $3.1 million for a new community center and town office complex; it failed 254 to 64. At Town Meeting in March, voters approved an appropriation of $50,000 for an architectural and design study for a new town office building, but the state’s Department of Revenue Administration nixed it in May, saying the amendment made at Town Meeting had changed the purpose of the article. The Select Board had made an amendment to reduce a $200,000 warrant article, intended for upgrades to the Jaffrey Public Library’s heating system and the relocation of town offices to the library, to $50,000 for an architectural and design study for a new town office building at the existing site on Goodnow Street.

At last week’s Select Board meeting, Chair Jeanne LaBrie agreed with Batchelder that making repairs to the second floor and/or temporarily moving town employees to a different location are not solutions that will last. Selectman Don MacIsaac said he was equally frustrated with “pouring good money after bad [buildings],” but suggested the board seek out cost estimates for second-floor repairs.

No matter how the selectmen decide to proceed after consulting with engineers and contractors, they agreed to seek money at Town Meeting to fund a study for a new town office building at the existing site.

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