January 21, 2022

Chester Seeks Bids for Second Floor Renovation at Town Hall

CHESTER— Town officials will open bids on Dec. 13 for a renovation to the second floor of town hall that would be funded by the insurance payment for the collapse of the former community center building on Route 154 in February 2011.

The board of selectmen voted at a meeting last week to seek bids for the town hall work, while dropping an earlier idea to use some of the insurance proceeds to pay for a 750-square-foot parks and recreation storage structure at Chester Elementary School. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said cost estimates for the storage addition were over $200,000, and would have used too much of the total available funding. “It did not make economic sense ,the cost per square foot was too high” he said.

The second floor renovations designed by Jackunski & Humes Architect of Berlin would create a larger meeting room to accommodate up to 65 people, along with changes to some of the offices on the second floor. The larger meeting room would reduce the need to use the historic Chester Meeting House on Liberty Street, particularly for less well-attended town meetings and board and commission meetings.

Meehan said $260,000 is available from the community center insurance settlement.  He said selectmen are “optimistic” the second floor renovations can be fully paid for with the available funding. Meehan said additional storage space for parks and recreation would be created at Cedar Lake, where the town sponsors a summer program, and in the renovated second floor of town hall.

Meehan said the board of selectmen has the authority to direct the insurance funds for the second floor project without a requirement for further approval from a town meeting. Work on the second floor renovations is expected to begin during the coming winter months.