WILTON – Voters are being asked to approve $300,000 for the renovation of the north end of Town Hall, which is the former home of the police station.
The plan includes upgrading life/safety features and the installation of a buildingwide alarm system. The upgrade will remove the last of the old wiring, Town Administrator Scott Butcher said during a tour of the project last week.
“That will make the Fire Department happy,” he said.
Little or no work has been done on that section since the 1970s, although the rest of the Main Street level has been restored.
About 10 people took the tour, which was conducted by Butcher and architect Alison Meltzer.
The plan includes gutting the north end; adding insulation; creating offices for the selectmen, town administrator and the Welfare Department; and adding much needed storage in several places, including under the stairs to the theater.
The building inspector and town assessor will move into the current selectmen’s office.
A recent break in a steam pipe required the stripping of the Planning Board storage closet.
“We found no insulation under the wainscoting,” Butcher said, noting that building inspector John Shepardson “has to wear his coat in his office” because of drafts through the old foundation.
“Upgrading the heating and installing fire alarms is enough to justify the project,” Butcher said.
The tour group was led through cramped rooms and haphazard storage files, and several people called it “just ugly.”
The men’s restroom will be redone and “made as close to ADA requirements as possible,” Meltzer said.
Since Town Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, there is some leeway on restorations. Among them are:
– The front entry, which contains the grand staircase leading to the theater, will be refurbished and made lighter.
– The exterior door, located to the left of the main entrance, will remain as a fire exit.
– A window, now covered by files, will be cleared, providing light for the town administrator.
– The storage area behind the former courtroom will become a conference room, with the kitchenette remaining. The large painting in the courtroom will be moved to another spot to allow for light into the conference area, which has no exterior windows.
“This is a project that is long overdue,” Budget Committee member Harry Dailey said. “It should have been done 20 years ago. We need to do this right the first time even if it costs a little more. We don’t want anyone coming back in a year or two wanting more money.”
Using last year’s figures, Butcher estimated the tax impact to be “about 80 cents on the tax rate.”
“But it is a one-time expense,” Meltzer said. “This building is a treasure, and it behooves us to take care of it.”