Town to vote on $1 million for new town office
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | January 26,2013
Albert J. Marro / Staff File Photo
The former Castleton town offices on Main Street have sat empty for more than a year. Residents will vote in March whether to spend $1 million to build a new municipal office.
CASTLETON — Voters at town meeting will decide if they are willing to spend $1 million to construct a new town office building.
Select Board Chairman Thomas Ettori told close to 25 people gathered this week at the Castleton Senior Center that after reviewing three properties in town, the board felt the best option was to build a new town office.
He said the new 4,520-square-foot building would sit on 5 acres of the Abbatiell property off Route 30, just south of the current medical center. The building would be laid out in a way that would allow a new fire staton to be built next to the offices.
“We would be using the plans (done by NBF Architects last year) without the space for a meeting room or the fire department,” Ettori said. “We believe we can do it all for a hair under $1 million.”
The other properties reviewed were the Woodard property on Route 4A and the Diekel property on Crystal Meadows Road near Castleton Corners.
Ettori said both properties with existing buildings were discarded as possibilities because there was not enough space to build a fire station in the future.
According to a preliminary drawing by John Berryhill of NBF Architects, the building would be constructed on the northern side of the property, adjacent to the medical center. This would allow the town to use the access already in place on the property.
The police department will have its own entrance to the building. Approximately 31 parking spaces have been planned around the town office building. If a fire station is built in the future, it would have its own direct access to Route 30.
“A lot of thought went into this property,” said Selectman Edward O’Shea. “We have to look for the future. Not for me, but for my kids and your kids and your grandchildren.”
Ettori said the estimated $1 million figure includes the price to purchase the property — $125,000 — as well as $65,000 for site development, $678,000 for the new building, $65,000 for contingencies, $60,000 for architectural management and $7,000 for permits.
This cost would amount to a yearly payment of about $66,600 for a 20-year bond. The payments include principal and interest, and would mean an increase of just over 1 cent on the tax rate.
“If this were to pass, we would put town hall up for sale to bring down the payments,” Ettori said, referring to the former town office building at 556 Main St.
According to board members, the future vision for the property, in addition to the fire department, is to construct a helicopter landing pad and a Babe Ruth baseball field. These additions have been drawn in preliminary plans to show the space distribution.
“There would be plenty of room,” O’Shea said. “Castleton has no baseball field. Our boys have had to play in Fair Haven.”
Resident Nick Thornblade asked if the Select Board has considered energy-efficient practices to reduce costs, such as solar panels. He said it would be a good long-term investment for the town.
Selectwoman Cristine Smith said the building itself will be as energy-efficient as possible, but additional features have not been entirely considered.
“I pushed for renewable,” she said. “We are only in the beginning stages of this thing. We can continue to have these discussions.”
Ettori said the board will make a final decision on the project at its next meeting Jan. 28 before the bond vote is advertised. He said they will hold a public meeting before the vote and expects to have a complete financial breakdown by then.
This will be the third townwide vote in a year on one of the town’s most contentious issues. In March last year, residents voted down a $2 million bond to construct a new office building and fire station. In November, a split vote effectively thwarted an effort to renovate the existing town office building on Main Street, which has sat empty for more than a year.
If the project were to move forward, Ettori said the project could last 1½ years, maybe more.
“It’s a good solid estimate that we can be proud of that will meet our needs,” O’Shea said.