Pownal seeks site for new town offices


POWNAL, Vt. -- The town has outgrown the space it now occupies in the town office building on Center Street, officials say.

Following a recent advertisement seeking design proposals for a new location, Pownal Select Board Chair Stephen Kauppi said many factors are still to be determined, including a budget, time frame and the question of what to do with the current building.

"We just started saving about a year ago. Right at the moment we've got about $100,000 allocated for this fund right now," said Kauppi of plans for a new town hall.

Although the Select Board had previously picked a design, the approximate square footage of a new building has yet to be agreed upon, according to Kauppi.

"What we have now is way too small. Everybody needs their own space and their own door," he said, calling the existing setup "unprofessional." "If you need to go in and look up property records or pay taxes, you really have no privacy to do it. Everybody hears what's going on."

The town had previously considered using the former Bartels Lodge as a new office space before eventually tearing the property down late last year.

Of the controversy surrounding that decision, Kauppi remained convinced that restoration wasn't feasible, but said he would like to see the property used as the site of a new town hall.

"Now we have a clear piece of land with water on it and village septic," he said, describing his vision of a new building overlooking the land known as Center Park. "My hopes and thoughts would be a real park, where people could sit and enjoy the beautiful view."

The original part of the current town office building is historic, and stands near one of the oldest cemeteries in town.

Kauppi also said he would support turning the building over to the historical society for preservation and its continued use of the space.

"It's old fashioned and kind of nice," he said, noting he thinks it likely they would be able to sustain the costs associated with ownership and upkeep.

"When we see we've got the taxes where they're kind of level, then we can go forward," said Kauppi, noting that rising tax costs leave the town hard pressed to contribute savings toward the building fund.

The deadline for design proposals was listed as Jan. 20 in the advertisement, which cites a land parcel of 1.9 acres intended as the new location.

"It's all up in the air right now," said Frank Lamb, chair of the town office committee. "There is no knowledge of when this will move forward. We need to see what the architects have to say."

Lamb said he didn't believe members of the historical society were even aware of the possibility of taking over the existing office building.

"What we're talking about is still in the early stages," he said. "I have no idea if this is even on their radar."

Members of the historical society could not be reached for comment.


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