Only one commissioner from voted against the demolition of the Old Town Hall. A motion was made to refer the decision back to the First Selectman, who made many arguments in favor of removing the building. Stating that the most important issue was library parking, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker also cited other reasons to remove the building.
According to Knickerbocker, “In order to complete the renovation of the upstairs of the library, we have to find 60 more parking spaces.”
He stated that if there were any other way to obtain the necessary spaces, he would love to keep the Old Town Hall.
Tim Draper, board of finance, was the only resident who spoke in favor of renovating the building. Draper felt the building could be renovated for residential apartments and could bring as much as $15,000 in taxes into the town.
However, Knickerbocker said that the value of the building has not been reevaluated since before the decline in the housing market, and then it was valued at $489,000. In order to renovate the building, including removing asbestos and lead from the building, the cost of renovation would likely cost $679,000. Knickerbocker added, “No builder is likely to purchase the building and spend almost twice as much to renovate it.”
Many members of the library Board of Directors were present and Jane Bickford, chairman, offered a letter saying the board has passed a resolution in support of removing the building for additional parking spaces.
Bickford said that the library receives 10,000 visitors a month and that people are parking at the Wells Fargo Bank and the Post Office. She said that the library is in desperate need of additional parking spaces.
Addition reasons to remove the building were cited by the First Selectman. He said that if the building was demolished, it would add 400 gallons of water back into the sewer allocation that could be used anywhere else in the town. The cost of the demolition would be paid by a STEAP grant that the city had already obtained, and there would be no additional costs to the taxpayers.
Director of Planning and Zoning, Steve Palmer, said, “The building is not being used. It's dilapidated.”
Bob Legnard, planning and zoning commissioner, said, “We are morally and legally responsible to tell anyone about the problems with that building.”
With that, a vote was held, with seven in favor of referring the decision back to the First Selectman, and one opposed.