May 9, 2021

Chester Selectmen Pick Berlin Firm to Design Town Hall Interior Renovations

CHESTER– The board of selectmen has picked Jacunski & Humes Architects of Berlin to design planned interior renovations to the second floor of town hall. The board picked the firm at a meeting last week after interviewing representatives of three finalists among the 13 firms that submitted bids for the project.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the base price for preliminary design schematic drawings and cost estimates was $7,500, with a  provision for an additional payment representing seven percent of the total construction cost for the project. Meehan said the preliminary design and cost estimate report should be completed by the end of October.

Town officials began focusing on an interior renovation of the second floor of town hall last spring after residents expressed support for leasing available ground floor space to another bank after Bank of America announced plans to close a branch in the ground floor space. The Bank of America branch closed in June, and voters will be asked at a town meeting Wednesday to approve a ten-year lease of the 3,219 square-foot ground floor space to the Essex Savings Bank. The building at 203 Middlesex Avenue (Route 154) has served as the town hall since 2003.

Meehan said the goal of the project is to modify or combine several offices on the second floor, many of which are under utilized, to create a larger public meeting space that could accommodate 50 people. The project also includes construction of a 600-square-foot brick build-out at Chester Elementary School that would be used as storage space for the parks and recreation department.

Meehan said the plan is to use a $350,000 insurance payment for the former community center building on Route 154 that collapsed in the heavy snows of  February 2011 to pay for the renovation project. He said the town is required to sign a construction contract for the project by the end of this year to access the insurance proceeds. “We’re going to have to move this fast,” Meehan said, adding the second floor renovations and the storage space at the elementary school would be completed next year.