Granby eyes merging town offices into old West Street School; special TM coming up

At a special Town Meeting scheduled for Dec. 11, Granby voters will decide wither to renovate the old West Street School for $5.6 million. If approved, the building would become town offices and a senior center.

At a special Town Meeting scheduled for Dec. 11, Granby voters will decide wither to renovate the old West Street School for $5.6 million. If approved, the building would become town offices and a senior center. Gazette file photo

By EMILEE KLEIN

Staff Writer

Published: 11-29-2023 8:49 PM

GRANBY — Five years since elementary students ran through its halls, the West Street Building might become the permanent home to town government offices if town voters approve $5.6 million for renovations at a coming Special Town Meeting.

“The town offices have been spread throughout the town. Most towns aren’t like that,” said Lynn Mercier, chair of the West Street Building Committee. “Being able to put all the municipal offices in one building is the dream for Granby at this point.”

The meeting on Dec. 11 will exclusively discuss renovating the 44,000-square-foot building into offices, storage and a Senior Center. The building also affords a larger space for the Senior Center than the Council on Aging’s current facility and presents an opportunity to cut operating expenses by maintaining one building rather than two.

The West Street Building Committee’s funding request is based on estimates for a fire protection system, new windows and doors, an HVAC system, asbestos removal, PCB removal and new water systems. If the project passes, the committee expects renovations to finish by December 2024.

The foundation, walls and roof of the building are structurally sound and do not require any maintenance, but the project budget includes $1 million to cover any inaccuracies in estimates or miscellaneous expenses. Funding for the project will come from ARPA funds and unspent money from the town’s general and capital project funds.

“Since we aren’t doing a total gut of the building, there might be other parts of the building, like drywall, that need to be improved, which will come out of miscellaneous,” Mercier said.

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Mercier said the committee has not finalized a layout of the new building, but initial plans call for the former first grade and kindergarten class wing to become town offices, while the kitchen and cafeteria will become the Senior Center.

Currently, town officials work out of the Town Hall Annex and Senior Center. The town’s three-year lease of the annex expires next year. According to an accompanying document to the warrant, moving town offices to the West Street Building will save on monthly Annex rental and maintenance fees, mowing, plowing, paving and wear on town-owned equipment. The town could also sell the Senior Center building.

If the article is denied, the town will continue to cover $23,000 yearly in general maintenance until the building is decommissioned. The West Street Building Committee estimates the cost of asbestos removal and demolition at $2.5 million. Town offices in the annex will need to be relocated as well.

The West Street Building closed in 2018 due to budget constraints and structural issues. The town opted to transfer students from the 76-year-old school to a new wing of East Meadow School.

In 2018, a different committee inspected the building and recommended to demolish West Street to build two new buildings. The Select Board adopted the recommendation but never moved forward with the project.

In 2022, residents inquired about the building during a Select Board meeting, motivating the board to create the West Street Building Committee. Mercier said the estimates from the 2018 report have significantly changed.

“At this point, the most cost-effective, financially responsible thing to do is to reuse and renovate the building rather than build new,” Mercier said.