Future for old Stockbridge Town Hall?

Monday November 1, 2010

STOCKBRIDGE -- A committee formed last year to determine the best use for the old town hall will present its preliminary report to residents next week.

The Old Town Hall Committee will hold an open meeting on at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, at the Town Offices at 50 Main St. The committee will review the planning done to this point and potential reuses of the space. Members also will take feedback from residents in advance of developing a final proposal for the property.

The building, located at the west end of Main Street, has been mostly vacant since early 2008 when town departments relocated to the former Plain School at the other end of Main Street.

There have been some private fundraising efforts for reuse of the old town hall, but the Board of Selectmen created the Old Town Hall Committee last year to determine the "highest and best use" of the facility, according to Leslie Shatz, the committee chairwoman.

After receiving feedback and determining a recommendation for the site, Shatz said, a final decision will be presented to residents at a future town meeting.

"We want to make a recommendation by the end of the year," said Shatz. "Anything that happens from that point on is up to the voters."

The building, constructed in 1839, is on the First Congregational Church's property, with assessor's records showing a long-standing lease with the town dating back to 1902.

The town's current budget allots $24,400 for annual heating, electrical and maintenance costs.

The committee has also hired an outside consulting firm to research reuse of the facility, the Cecil Group, whose research and recommendations will be presented at the meeting.

Shatz said a host of options have been looked at, including using the space for social functions, or converting it into offices, housing, a bed and breakfast, or a town museum.

The building is in "surprisingly good" condition, according to Shatz, though it does need renovations of the heating and electrical wiring, as well as changes to bring the facility up to code.

"While we are talking about how the building could be used," said Shatz, "we know that we could have a renovation project on our hands as well."

To reach Trevor Jones:
or (413) 528-3660.

If you go ...

What: Information session on what to do with the vacant town hall building at the west end of Main Street in Stockbridge

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9

Where: Stockbridge Town Offices, 50 Main St.


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