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Bristol officials offer tours of proposed town office space

Last Tuesday, Chris Salomon from Samyn-D'Elia Architects in Ashland, along with Bristol Town Administrator Nik Coates, hosted public tours of a proposed site for a new town office building on School Street in Bristol. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
October 10, 2018
BRISTOL – Residents of Bristol were invited to take a tour of the former medical building on the corner of School and Summer Streets last Tuesday to learn more about the town's plan to purchase and convert the building for a new town office site, freeing up space in the current town office building for the police department.

Town Administrator Nik Coates helped facilitate the tour, and said that as the town considered other options, the School Street location suddenly became available.

"It all came about at the right time, and we currently have a sales agreement [with Lakes Region General Hospital] for $335,800," he told those on hand for the evening tour.

Overall, the project would allow future improvements to the police station, which would remain in the current town office space for the time being, and bring about safer service to the community. With town offices and the police department in the same building, meetings are often interrupted when juveniles are detained by police or other public safety issues prevail.

One major benefit in purchasing the medical building on School Street, Coates said, would be to control its future use, as another option LRGH had been considering was to convert it into housing units.

"This would keep this building in town hands and stabilize the neighborhood," he said. "We're getting it at a steal, and it meets all the needs identified over the past few years."

Among many other selling points of the structure is its proximity to the Old Bristol Town Hall where parking for voters would be readily available. More importantly is its central location in the town and the general layout of office space it would provide.

The building will need some renovations, however, and that's what last week's tours were all about, officials said. On hand to lead those tours were Coates and Chris Salomon of Samyn-Delia Architects of Ashland.

Salomon explained that while the building was in very good condition there were structural improvements that would be necessary to convert it from a medical facility to a town office.

Among those were minimal costs for carpet replacement in the entry of what would be the Town Clerk/Tax Collectors reception area.

"It's a heavy traffic area, and a washable floor would be better to maintain," he explained.

Because the building was a former medical facility, walls for a few of the small exam rooms would also need to be taken down to suit town office needs.

"The building just needs a bit of work but, there again, that adds up," Salomon explained.

Renovation estimates his company came up with were in the range of $426,000.

While some asked if portions of the renovations could be done at a later date, Coates said that would be a disservice to the town.

"It would be disrespectful for residents to come into a work zone for the next four to five years to conduct their business, but that's just my personal opinion," he said.

On the positive side, many of the cabinets and counters from the former medical exam rooms could also be utilized in other areas, like some offices and an employee lunchroom. The proposed TC/TC area is safety-oriented and appropriate, there is plenty of much needed storage areas for files an own records, ample room for land use and town planning offices as well as the possibility for expanded space for board and committee meetings.

Some residents on hand for the tour were concerned about the heating and cooling aspects of the building. Salomon said that a large part of the building previously had no air conditioning but the entire building had baseboard electric heat. His company's proposal would be to install a new HVAC system that would leave the baseboard heat for those two or three weeks a year when temperatures might drop below what the system could typically handle.

"It would be just under $100,00 for that project," he said.

Among other renovations would be a few wall tear-downs, along with structural reinforcement to create larger meeting spaces. There would also be some minor cosmetic patching and paint needed for some of the public wall surfaces along with ADA compliant improvements to a few of the bathrooms.

With their design Salomon said an open space would also be left for potential future installation of a lift to reach the second floor where administrative offices would be located. In the meantime, ADA accessible rooms on the first floor would be made available for meetings with town officials.

Again on the "up side" is the fact that the building recently had a new roof installed, although some second floor ceiling repairs will be needed for past cosmetic damage. There is ample parking, visual recognition for visitors to the town, and room for potential income from additional second floor space that could be renovated for offices in the future.

Costs for the purchase of the building and renovations are what residents and taxpayers will be asked to consider in a special town meeting that is hoped to take place in November.

A concept budget for preliminary funding compiled by Samyn-D'Elia estimates renovation costs to be $427,016. Architectural and Engineering costs came out at $137,136.08; that would bring their total to $563,837.08 for renovations of the building.

Coates said that adding the building's purchase price of $335,800 into the mix and subtracting the $250,000 that could be made available from the unexpended fund balance, the town would only need bond $649,637 for the overall project.

Another positive factor Coates cited was that bonds for the library's expansion project and a major equipment purchase for the fire department will be fulfilled within the next two years and that will mean a lesser tax burden for the community.

Taxpayers are encouraged to learn more about the proposal before the anticipated Nov. 1 Special Town Meeting though a few means. They can obtain an informative "Frequently Asked Questions" document at the town offices; watch a 30-minute video tour of the building, linked on the home page of the town Web site; or request a walking tour of the building through Town Administrator Nik Coates by calling 744-3354, ext. 3.

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