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Whately to consider future plans for Town Hall

— On Wednesday, the Municipal Building Committee will inform residents of its next steps to create a $3 million newly renovated and expanded Town Hall.

A public informational forum is scheduled at 7 p.m. at the historic Town Hall on Chestnut Plain Road. The presentation will bring the town up to date on community feedback the building committee received and outline next steps in making the project a reality.

The public information forum is the last step before townspeople officially weigh in at the Town Meeting in May, in which they will be asked to authorize spending for designs.

Residents would be asked to approve $87,906 in CPA money and $84,983 in town funds. The total cost of the design phase of the project is $172,889.

When it comes time to pay for the actual construction, the town plans to apply for grants specific to renovations of historic buildings, according to Selectman Jonathan Edwards.

Of four options to revitalize the historic white building, the building committee has settled on the $3 million renovation and expansion of the Town Hall. Other proposals included constructing a new $3.1 million 7,500-square-foot facility on Christian Lane, renovating the existing building for $2 million or renovating the Town Hall with a smaller addition for $2.75 million.

Margo Jones Architects of Greenfield proposed the different scenarios for the town in September at a cost of $28,000.

The preferred option would add 3,400 square feet to the existing building, adding office space to the first and second floors, new rest rooms and elevator and a new selectmen’s meeting room.

Most significantly, it would restore the historic meeting hall and provide a community space capable of hosting as many as 200 people.

This option has won the overwhelming support of the townspeople indicated in a November straw poll and recommended by the Whately Historic Commission.

The plan is to get all town employees under one roof. Employees have been split between the Center School and the Town Hall since they first moved from their home offices in 2001. The selectmen, the town administrator, town clerk and Whately Historical Society meet in the Center School, while the zoning and planning boards and tax assessor conduct business at the Town Hall.

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