Hancock voters to consider land swap for $1.1 million donation for new Town Hall

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HANCOCK — Voters on Monday will consider whether to donate a parcel of land in exchange for a donation of $1.1 million for a new Town Hall.

They also will consider a requested 20 percent increase in the elementary school budget at the annual town meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Hancock Elementary School on Route 43.

One article on the warrant will seek approval of the gift of $1.1 million from town residents Steven and Elizabeth Nielsen for the construction of a new Town Hall. Another article will ask voters to approve the gift of 278 acres of land to the Nielsens, which is adjacent to their property.

The current Town Hall is ill-suited for municipal office use, according to Sherman Derby, chairman of the Hancock Select Board.

"It's a good deal because we need a new Town Hall," he said. "And nobody ever uses that land, so why not use it for the town's interest?"

Because the current Town Hall structure is a registered historic structure, it cannot be renovated or restructured for office use, Derby said. So the plan would be to build a new town hall — in the style of Shaker architecture — next door where town business would be conducted, and use the historic building for community events and as the town's historic archive, to be operated by the town historical commission.

The 278 acres is assessed at $180,000, Derby said.

The school budget increase will likely draw scrutiny, Derby noted, because of the requested $248,000 increase for a total requested budget of $1.3 million, and an additional request for $133,000 for tuition and transportation. If any of the tuition and transportation funds are left unused, they would revert back to the town.

Approval of two solar installations at Hancock Shaker Village, along with a payment in lieu of taxes agreement (PILOT) worth about $32,000 annually for five years, also will be considered.

"It seems like kind of a no-brainer," Derby said.


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