In the second half of 2017, a team began evaluating the Town Hall’s energy usage with the goal of improving it. The team included several volunteer citizens, Jill Davies (Selectboard member), and Alita Wilson (Pentangle Director). Working with Efficiency Vermont, the group received a Deep Energy Retrofit Grant in April 2018, conditional on achieving a 50% reduction in energy use. The project came to an abrupt halt when an engineer hired in July 2018 to advise the group on adding insulation to the theater roof informed it that the back of the building (the 1980s addition) might be coming away from the main building. It became evident that rather than focusing on energy efficiency, the entire building needed renovation.
In August 2018, Selectboard members Mary Riley and Jill Davies invited anyone who was interested to come to a meeting about a potential renovation project. Several meetings were held over a number of months to discuss what the building should be used for now and in the future and possible next steps. Meanwhile, the town hired a structural engineer to assess the structural integrity of the addition (December 2018) and commissioned a study of the entire building in March 2019.
The 21st Century Plan
Following the structural-engineering report in September 2019, the town hired an architect to do a feasibility study on three renovation scenarios with approximate costs. The Grand Vision, which involved recapturing the old Opera House, was presented at one of the citizen meetings. Those in attendance deemed this option too expensive and unlikely to gain widespread support. The Basic Vision, which involved mainly repairs to key systems and the exterior envelope, was viewed as uninspiring and largely invisible to the public. The current 21st Century plan struck the appropriate balance between necessary repairs and forward-thinking enhancements and was accepted by the citizen group.
The team began meeting virtually in July 2020 and began speaking with architects to discuss the project and provide tours of the building. After reviewing three proposals, the team recommended that the Selectboard hire Montpelier-based Black River Design to develop plans for interior and exterior renovations. Just prior, Woodstock resident Max Comins had donated funds to cover the current phase of the project, which includes further assessment to confirm the building’s stability, possible short-term HVAC solutions for the theater, in-depth meetings with primary stakeholders, refining the work scope, preparing conceptual design options, developing and adjusting cost estimates, and sharing the results publicly.
The THRP team plans to present details about the project in March or April. The presentation will include:
The goal is to culminate the public-engagement phase with a bond vote at the March 2022 Town Meeting. If the vote is successful, construction could begin as early as April 2022.
The Town Hall Rejuvenation Project (THRP) Team
Jill Davies, Selectboard Vice Chair, Selectboard and Finance Team
Mary Riley, Selectboard Chair, Selectboard Team
Bill Kerbin, Municipal Manager, Selectboard Team
Alita Wilson, Director of Pentangle Arts, Pentangle Team
Wendy Spector, Pentangle Board Member, Fundraising Team
Hank Savelberg, Clerk of the Works, Municipal Manager Team
Jon Spector, EDC Chair, Finance Team
Jill Rose, Public Relations Team
Black River Design, Montpelier-based Architect Firm