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Structural repairs to Jaffrey town office complete

JAFFREY — Structural repairs to the town office’s second floor were completed this week and are slated to cost taxpayers more than $15,000, according to Town Manager Dave Caron.

After more than a month of not being able to use a portion of the second floor office space out of concern for town employees’ safety, the area was reopened Tuesday to displaced workers, who resumed their prior office locations, Caron said Tuesday.

Contractors from New Ipswich-based Cutter Construction installed new plywood beams to improve the structural integrity of the failing second floor, as well as steal posts to provide additional support, Caron said.

In recent years, the town has grappled with concerns about when and how to move forward with second floor repairs, while proposals for a new town office building were also under consideration. But town officials said last month that the approximately 4-inch slant in a portion of the second floor floorboards had become more visible and a solution to the problem was needed.

In late February, some of the second floor offices were consolidated into one side of the town office building, which provided a host of new challenges for town employees as they carried out day-to-day operations in cramped quarters, Caron said. Caron, who was hired as Jaffrey’s town manager in March, said during his first week the conference room downstairs was his office space.

Had the town not chosen to move forward with the repairs, Caron said some of the town offices would have had to be relocated and/or space rented out in a facility elsewhere. “They were an unfortunate necessity,” he said of the repairs.

At March Town Meeting, voters approved $35,000 for a preliminary architectural design study for a new town office building at the existing site at 10 Goodnow St. The feasibility of building a larger, multi-level structure on that site will be apart of the study.

At Town Meeting, voter Bob Chamberlain said the issue of financing a new town office building or funding repairs to the existing building has been on the table for too long. “Unfortunately, by the time this building is built, the actual building we are in now will be costing us a lot of money,” he said. “It’s like a sore tooth; let’s get going and get it fixed.”

But even if voters approve the design plan, which is expected to be presented by the Select Board in March 2014, Caron said Tuesday it will be at least two to three years before the building would be constructed and put to use by town employees.

Select Board Chair Don MacIsaac said Tuesday that although the second floor repairs could be viewed as “the town spending good money after bad,” , a long-term solution is still some years away from a reality.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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