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Jaffrey

Town office sites scouted

Architect looks at 3 nearby properties for new building

JAFFREY — Town officials are gearing up for a public hearing expected sometime later this month to review three preliminary site designs for a new town office building adjacent to the existing Goodnow Street municipal building.

While the town had considered building a new town office on the current footprint, Town Manager Dave Caron said Monday that the proposal is off the table, at least for now.

“The space study conducted recently calls for 9,000 square feet of space and the current building is 4,500 [square feet],” Caron said. “We’d have to build up and we don’t believe that option is best for the town.”

Input received at the town’s upcoming public hearing, though, could have a significant impact in shaping future site plans, and may bring new ideas to the discussion table, he said.

“We have an architect looking at three potential sites in the general area of the existing town office,” Caron said, adding that the town buying property isn’t out of the question. When asked which properties are under consideration, he declined to say. He said the architect still needs to assess the feasibility of building a new town office on those proposed sites before the town will share those concepts with the public.

In 2010-11, town officials considered a plan that included acquiring property on North Street, adjacent to the current town offices on Goodnow Street, and constructing a new building there for a cost of about $2.1 million. An ad-hoc Facilities Committee had also previously considered the former Printegra building at 45 Knight St. as a possible new site for town offices, as well as the Somero building at 82 Fitzgerald Dr.

Select Board member Kathy Batchelder, who is a member of the building committee assessing proposals for a new town office, said Wednesday that questions like where to temporarily house town employees and keep public services uninterrupted during construction deterred the committee from proposing a rebuild on the existing site.

The municipal parking lot used regularly by town office employees and TD Bank customers would have also been heavily impacted by construction, Batchelder said, adding that parking is already tight downtown.

“If we can build in the same general location and, as we build the new town building, continue to run town business from the present site, that made a lot of sense to us,” Batchelder said.

In May, Jaffrey contracted with CMK Architects of Manchester for a preliminary site design, which is slated to include a preliminary floor plan and building elevations. Caron said at that time that the firm’s base architectural fee is $14,500, which doesn’t include site surveys and other related costs.

Voters approved up to $35,000 for a preliminary design study of a new town office at Town Meeting in March.

In recent years, the town has grappled with concerns about when and how to move forward with second floor structural repairs to the existing town office, while proposals for a building were also under consideration. This spring, the Select Board decided to move forward with $15,000 in repairs, which included the installation of new support beams, carpeting and floor stabilization.

In March 2011, voters approved spending $25,000 from the town’s Building Maintenance Capital Reserve Fund for the purpose of improving handicap accessibility at the existing town office. Caron said the town will be moving forward with those improvements as soon as possible.

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

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