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New Ipswich

‘We can’t save this building’

Residents urge board to abandon all rehabilitation efforts for Building No. 2

  • Residents urge Select Board members to demolish Building No. 2.
  • Residents urge Select Board members to demolish Building No. 2.
  • Residents urge Select Board members to demolish Building No. 2.

NEW IPSWICH — In what may be the end of the long-standing argument about what to do with the former police department, known as Building No. 2, residents offered their opinions to the Select Board on Tuesday night. The consensus: Tear it down.

“The building is unsavable,” said resident Steve Michaud at the meeting. “This mold has been growing and growing. It has to be in the outside walls by now. Some people have said we need to save the building. We can’t save this building. In the end, it’s too far gone.”

The building, which has cost the town nearly a quarter million dollars to combat mold, has been used in the past as an emergency SAU office for the school district, and most recently, as the police department. The building was evacuated in 2008, after black mold was discovered in the building. The town has attempted a remediation of the mold, but testing following the remediation revealed mold still existed in the building, said Select Board member Mike Conlin.

In March, the town voted to reduce a petition warrant article requesting $46,000 in funds to demolish the building to $0 at the town’s Deliberative Session. Resident David Lage pointed out that the main issue with that petition article was the townspeople didn’t see any hard facts or numbers to support that cost. If the Select Board got estimates for both the demolition and the rerouting of systems such as phones, water, electricity and radio systems which currently run through Building 2, people would be more willing to support it, he said.

“I think the citizens want to hear facts,” he said.

Beverly Vaillencourt said that as a member of the facilities committee, she had been in support of saving the building. But now, the town has spent more than $221,000 on the building since 2007 in mold remediation, studies, renovations to the building and putting in a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, to no ultimate purpose. “I was for saving the building,” she said. “Now, let’s blow it up tomorrow, and be done. I think we should get rid of it.”

Resident Bentti Hoiska said he would not suggest putting any town employees back in the building, or using it for any purpose that would require heating it, as he felt the maintenance of the 60-year-old building would not be cost effective. He suggested possibly gutting the building and using it for equipment storage. Resident Mary Fortier was against that idea, saying that even simply gutting the building would mean putting more town resources into it, and would not solve the mold issue.

Select Board Chair George Lawrence noted that at the beginning of this process, he was in favor of saving the building if it could be done. Now, he said, he had come to agree with the members of the public who spoke at the meeting: Demolition of the building may be the only option left at this point. Conlin agreed.

“There comes a point you have to make a decision,” said Conlin. “I think to go forward, we have to put this to sleep.” The board agreed the next step would be to obtain estimates for a demolition of the building, and the relocation of the utility systems that run through the building, to bring forward a warrant article in March.

Resident Mark Krook, who is a part-time police officer in New Ipswich, said he felt the demolition of Building No. 2 was ultimately inevitable. He asked the board to put some consideration into revisiting a feasibility study for a safety complex that would house the police department, fire department and emergency management. The fire station is too small for the department’s needs, he said, and the police station is in a building rented by the town. Last year, a warrant article requesting $12,500 for a study to identify the needs of such a complex and possible siting was defeated in the polls. Krook’s sentiment, however, was echoed by several other residents who attended the meeting. Vaillencourt said she would like to see the town investigate space on Route 124 for a new complex. Lage suggested that the Select Board work the cost of a feasibility study into the budget for the upcoming year.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

They can put the new safety complex right next door to the new Dollar Gen....oh...sorry, my mistake.

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