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Fundraising urged for Meeting House

GREENFIELD — Planning Board members are urging residents to start thinking about renovations to the town’s Meeting House and to consider a study of how best to reconfigure the town office building.

The two recommendations are part of a draft for the Capital Improvements Plan for 2014, which will be discussed at a public hearing on Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the town office.

“We must begin a major fund raising project to restore the Meeting House to its former glory,” board members wrote in the draft CIP. “Patchwork repairs will further contribute to its decay. Not only should the community appropriate funds into this project, but efforts should be made to pursue grants, private funding and any other source of resources to enhance and preserve this gem.”

The CIP draft does not include any estimate on the amount of money that would be needed, but replacement of the furnace and a propane stove and water heater in the Meeting House are identified as urgent needs that should be addressed in 2014, at an estimated cost of $23,021. The Planning Board noted that the money for those projects could possibly come from capital reserve funds.

Regarding the town office, the draft states that reconfiguration of the space is needed to ensure privacy and confidentiality for those dealing with the town clerk and tax collector, but that more study is needed before a realistic estimate of costs can be made.

The board also recommends creating a subcommittee to study ways to make the town’s recycling center self-sustaining. “This should include ascertaining the feasibility of regionalizing all or part of the town’s recycling activity,” board members wrote.

The draft notes that the recycling center could be relocated to the current site of the Department of Public Works if a new DPW garage is built on land north of Greenvale Cemetery on Forest Road. The draft CIP calls for payments on the a new garage to start in 2018. Select Board members have said at recent meetings with residents that any plan to build a new garage would require voter approval.

The draft CIP calls for $334,541 in capital improvement expenditures in 2014.

One of the largest items is $160,000 for repaving of Old Bennington Road, which is the first road scheduled on a proposed 10- to 12-year program to redo all of the town’s paved roads. In 2015, according to the schedule, the town plans to repave Knotwood Drive and Longwood Drive and in 2016 Russell Station Road and portions of East Road would be repaved.

A second significant CIP expense would be $108,884 for Department of Public Works vehicles. That amount includes payments on already purchased vehicles as well as $30,900 for the first year payment on a replacement for the town’s 2007 F-550 dump truck. The draft CIP states that the DPW and the Select Board have decided to replace vehicles more frequently in order to benefit from higher trade-in values.

Other 2014 CIP expenses would be a $6,438 payment on a police cruiser and $11,676 for Fire Department turnout gear, as well as the $23,021 for the Meeting House furnace, stove and water heater. The Planning Board is recommending deferring purchase of a used Dodge pickup truck for the Fire Department, unless grant funding becomes available. The also recommend holding off on buying a compactor for the recycling center.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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