Article focuses on Town Hall fixes

WILTON – Obtaining a design or an engineering plan for the renovation of the northwest end of Town Hall will be on the warrant for Town Meeting. The project would include upgrading the electric service in the downstairs lobby at the bottom of the stairs to the theater. The cost would be covered by money approved last year for safety upgrades.

Energy Committee members Allison Meltzer and John Shepardson met with selectmen in mid- January to discuss the project. Little work has been done on that section of the hall, located to the left of the Main Street entrance, since the Police Department moved out in 2003. The old cell blocks are still there and are part of the problem, Shepardson said. He is also the town’s building inspector.

Although in need of work, the area is used by many town agencies – including the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment and Conservation Commission – mostly for storage, but small meetings are held in the building inspector’s office when the courtroom is occupied, especially by the water and sewer commissions.

The building inspector’s office is part of the former police station. Meltzer said it wouldn’t be "a simple renovation. There is a fair amount of demolition." The space is about 1,500 square feet, not including the space under the stairs, which is used for storage. All of it needs new insulation and wiring.

"We know there is a lot of wiring that’s not even close to code compliant, a lot of it done by the police officers trying to get heat in there. It’s really bad," Shepardson said. Selectman Kermit Williams said, "We have talked a lot about needing space for archives." Shepardson noted, "It might be a place for an office for the (proposed) town administrator." He added, "Some aspects (of the work) already have funds earmarked for them (in a warrant article last year), like the insulation." Shepardson said doing the work in phases would be difficult.

"There needs to be insulation behind the old cell blocks," he said. Williams said, "We need to figure out how to best use the space, and it ought to be done to a quality where people can work in it." Selectman Bill Condra agreed: "Insulate the parts we want, develop and capture the utility of the building." Shepardson added, "The people who live in there can say there is an urgency in this. We planned it earlier, but ran into a roadblock, like the cells that need to be demolished.

The heating is bad." He noted the rewiring needed in the theater lobby. "That can be part of the energy and safety funds," he said. A separate bid was to be sought for that part of the project.