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Town Hall water damage project ready to move ahead

$50K repair, approved at Town Meeting, starts to take shape

WILTON — After voters approved $50,000 for repairs to the Town Hall courtroom and bathrooms at Town Meeting, the work is now ready to move forward.

“It’s an old building, and it’s suffering from age,” said Select Board Chair Bill Condra in an interview Wednesday. “There are leaks in the back foundation wall that have caused structural failure on the framing.”

The problem is not new, said Condra, and the back portion of the Town Hall has had moisture leakage likely for decades past. The issue was first brought to light, however, after a wall in the women’s bathroom on the first floor had to be taken down to deal with a burst pipe. The pipe, which led to the building’s old steam boiler, rotted and sprung a leak several months ago, with the damage likely being caused by the moisture already present in the back wall.

“The whole bathroom was filled with steam. The place was dripping,” said Condra. When the wall of the bathroom was taken down to implement an immediate repair to the pipe, it was discovered that the damage from the leaking water was extensive.

“We can’t just fix the pipe and walk away,” said Condra. “It’s almost like the wall’s being held up by the drywall. The wood framing was just pulp.”

During the process, the repairs will strip away a facade wall between a storage room and the former judge’s chambers located at the back of the Town Hall court room. The wall between the storage room and chambers and the granite foundation will be torn away, and the granite foundation and ceiling sealed to prevent future leaks.

“By taking it back down to the original back wall and sealing the foundation, that should solve all the moisture problems,” he said.

The renovations will give the current storage space about a foot an a half of extra floor space, as well as higher ceilings, said Condra. The portion of the space that is currently the former judge’s chambers will be converted into a small break room. At the same time as the storage space is being addressed, the bathrooms on the first floor will be updated. The renovations may also require that the wall separating the storage room from the court room be demolished and rebuilt, but whether or not that will be required is not yet known, Condra said.

“We’re really undecided,” said Condra about the court room wall.

Select Board member Rick Swanson said in an interview Wednesday that the board hopes to be able to phase the repairs, to ensure that the most vital pieces of the repairs are able to be completed within the $50,000 budget approved by the town. The hope is to move on the renovations during the summer and have them completed by the Primary elections — which are generally held in the court room — take place in September. Several town committees hold meetings in the court room, and Swanson said that the board expects that for the majority of the time during repairs, those meetings will be able to continue in that room. The board is planning for contingencies, particularly during the time of demolition of the court room wall, but hope to limit any amount of time the room is unusable to a minimum.

In a meeting with Building Inspector John Shepardson on Monday, the Select Board voted to make Shepardson the manager of the project, and approved to allocate $2,000 and reserve a further $2,000 in contingency for his time. Shepardson has already received estimates for the job from builders, plumbers and electricians, said Condra, and as the project manager, will make the final decision on which companies to hire to do the work.

Next week, the Select Board will be discussing the timeline for construction, and discussing who will complete the construction work.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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