Residents concerned that the historic Marion Town House might be demolished in the coming year can rest easy. According to the Marion Town House Advisory Committee, that is not a likely option for the old building. The committee discussed various alternatives at their meeting on Thursday, October 18.
“Once it’s ripped down, you can’t bring it back,” said Committee Member Rico Ferrari.
The committee was formed in January in order to explore options for the aging Town House that would best suit the financial needs of the town without destroying the history of the building.
On September 20, the committee held a public hearing and presented various recommendations as put forward by the Durland-Van Voorhis Architect Firm. After hearing the eight recommendations, residents sounded off on their concerns, most of which centered around the preservation of the building.
Now, the committee is tasked with the challenge of narrowing down the recommendations, some of which included the complete demolition of the historic building. From there, they will present them to the Board of Selectmen, and then a Project Manager and Architect will be hired to conduct a feasibility study for each of the recommendations. It would cost the town somewhere between $50,000-$70,000 to hire the two for the feasibility study.
“I don’t think that’s outrageous,” said Committee Chair Jay Ryder.
After the public hearing, and other meetings held with town offices to determine the need of office space, the committee started to pave the way for the project.
Of the eight recommendations, the committee unanimously voted on three of the options to present to the Board of Selectmen.
The first would be to repair, renovate and reorganize the existing structure and keep the existing 18,000 square feet. After reorganization, the building could accommodate other town departments, such as the Council on Aging, who might need more office space.
The second option would be to renovate, repair and reorganize the older and historic front half of the building and tear down the back portion of the building. Major upgrades would be needed for the 140-year-old building, such as the implementation of an elevator shaft to make it handicap accessible. After the front part of the building is restored, the town can assess whether or not a small addition needs to be constructed in the back for additional space.
The third and final option would be to construct a brand new structure at another location in Marion, and rent out the existing Town House to other departments in town who need the space.
“I think we understand what we have in our minds, we just have to see if the plans will jive with that,” said Town Administrator Paul Dawson.
After two hours, the committee adjourned, saying that they will look into dates in the near future to reconvene and further discuss the three options. The committee hopes to have a formal project ready, complete with feasibility study, by the Spring Town Meeting in 2013.
By Katy Fitzpatrick