N. Hadley Village Hall sold

  • The 1864 North Hadley Village Hall at 239 River Drive GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 5/6/2021 8:21:35 PM

HADLEY — Hadley couples who independently own the North Hadley Sugar Shack and Bramucci Construction are joining together to buy the historic North Hadley Village Hall from the town.

After a Hampshire Superior Court judge denied a preliminary injunction filed by local contractor Peter Heronemus aimed at preventing the sale of the 239 River Drive property, the Select Board on Wednesday voted 5-0 to accept an $80,000 bid from Joe and Michelle Boisvert and Rick and Michelle Bramucci.

“We’re extremely excited about this project in North Hadley,” Joe Boisvert said.

The agreement marks the conclusion of at least 6½ years of efforts to redevelop the historic property, after Town Meeting voted in October 2014 to have the town seek buyers for it.

The proposal includes taking the garage bays, previously used by the town’s fire department, and converting them into a place for storing and maintaining equipment and vehicles, and adding a small addition for office space for the construction company.

The remainder of the 1864 building, constructed as a schoolhouse and later used as space by the Park and Recreation Department and for a branch library, would be converted into high-end apartments. There would also be development of 12 parking spaces, mostly on the north side of the building.

An existing ballfield would remain largely intact and be used for events, such as Memorial Day gatherings and suppers put on by the neighboring North Hadley Congregational Church.

“Our intention is to see the North Hadley Hall keep its historical charm in our community and stay at the center of the village,” the Boisverts wrote in their letter to the board.

The bid was $10,000 higher than one submitted by Amherst residents Gary Beaudry and Teresa Beaudry, as the project lead and assistant lead, and Wilbraham residents Kay Beaudry and Brandon Garvey, as the project coordinator and project manager.

Under that proposal from an entity called Boone Nominee Trust, 55-and-over independent living apartments would have been created on the building’s ground level, along with a 550-square-foot community room. The upper floor would have become Kay Beaudry and Garvey’s home, where they would have overseen property maintenance and event management.

“We envision a property that would offer exterior and interior space for groups in the area to foster creativity, as well as give the community a place to meet, make new friends and celebrate this old schoolhouse on Route 47,” the Beaudrys wrote in their proposal.

In selecting a buyer, board member Joyce Chunglo said the Bramuccis and Boisverts had made a fair and equitable offer.

Chunglo said she had tears in her eyes as the long saga of finding a buyer for the building nears an end, and the appreciation shown to it by North Hadley residents.

Select Board Chairman David J. Fill II said he was less comfortable with the competing plan to turn greenspace into community gardens. “I think pretty much every yard in town has garden space,” Fill said.

Whether the sale will be impacted by the lawsuit is unknown.

Ryan O’Hara, an attorney with Bacon Wilson, PC of Northampton who represents Heronemus, told the Select Board that his client is continuing to seek enforcement of what he argues is a binding contract for $70,000.

Heronemus contends that this contract was breached and used by the Select Board in November 2019 to get Town Meeting to seek permission from the Legislature to lift a protection on the hall’s ballfield under the state Constitution. That has given the new bidders more leeway.

Previously, Heronemus said the public should know that the greenspace and access to Lake Warner could be compromised because new bidders aren’t under the same obligation he was to protect it.

Meantime, Chunglo said the town would like to take the historic schoolhouse bell removed from the building and display it in front of the North Hadley fire substation. Rick Bramucci said this is fine as long as the bell will not be put into storage by the Department of Public Works.

Joe Boisvert also said that the town is welcome to take most other items from the building.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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