Town Offices: Rebuild or Replace?

No matter who wins the 2 year Selectboard seat, Hartford will have at least one person on the Selectboard who’s inclination is to build new town offices instead of trying to renovate the 100 year old building we currently use. Both Sam Romano and I agree that it will be a better use of our money to start fresh (per the article in the 1/28/2011 Valley News), so there is no distinction between us on this issue.
A new town hall that took advantage of the latest technology for energy use, that included meeting rooms designed to support interactive, real-time online meetings, that was designed from the start with the expectation that future generations would want to reconfigure it could become a symbol of our town’s commitment to the future.

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There needs to be a lot more attention paid to the incredible value a renovation to our Town Hall would bring to Hartford. Let’s not listen to the naysayers who call the solid brick building “decrepit”–there are some who have a personal grudge against the building and have lost all sense of perspective. Let’s not forget that the wave of the future is to embrace the irreplaceable historic structures of the past with 21st century embellishments–such as in the re-use and renovation of old mills. An excellent plan has been submitted by architects to renovate our Town Hall. If that doesn’t provide enough room let’s add an annex to the plans, or purchase the sorry little white building across the street and build the annex there. The idea of razing Town Hall will be the equivalent of giving the Town a huge black eye on so very many levels. We would be doing ourselves a great disservice and cause a painful and unnecessary disturbance to our town. Please let’s look at the positive aspects of this 100-year old building and its value and meaning to the community. Let’s open the discussion to the community and look at how renovating can be the most forward-thinking and cost-effective plan in the long-term and measurably affect White River Junction as a whole on a tourism and town renaissance level. No modern-day building will last the way old buildings like this one have lasted–not unless it’s a high-end, world-class building and we can be assured that won’t be the case with our modest town resources. Renovating this historic brick Town Hall building, bringing it fully up-to-date with the best energy-efficiency and modern amenities within an historic and irreplaceable facade, will really put us on the map and bring tremendous positive attention to Hartford–guaranteed.

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