By Alex Malm
During the recent budget kickoff meeting, Town Manager, Mike Malaguti, identified the Lions Hall project as a potential warrant article for this March.
The building’s future has been a point of discussion in town since the Lions Club, who used the town-owned building at 256 Mammoth Road for decades, decided to no longer occupy the building.
Malaguti said after hearing from the public, many of whom have expressed a desire to do what is needed to save the building and then potentially doing phased remodeling, he thought that they shouldn’t propose more than $500,000 on the warrant article.
On Nov. 20, during the budget workshop meeting between the Town Council and the Budget Committee, Budget Committee Chair, Patrick Cassidy, said they were proposing to have the warrant article ask residents what they want to see for the future of the building, instead of having a $500,000 price tag attached to it.
Malaguti said “That’s perfectly fine with me,” noting that it could be similar to the water warrant article last year. He added that he spoke with Weston & Sampson, consultants who gave them different potential options for the building, including a full renovation of the building.
He said they recommended a number of different things that could potentially be done with the $500,000.
Town Council Chair, John Farrell, interrupted saying he didn’t want to hear what they had to say.
“I don’t want to hear what the engineers have to say anymore, they got us to three and a half million dollars,” Farrell said about the proposal.
He explained that instead, he wanted to know what it is going to cost to get the electrical system up to code, what is the minimum they can do for fire protection without sprinklers, what the cost of fixing the floor would be, and ultimately what they can do to keep it in the condition it’s in “to not have it fall down.”
“No more studies,” Farrell said.
Instead of doing any more studies, he said they should have staff go there and see what they can do so it’s functional and see if they can or can’t do anything for $500,000.
“No more Weston & Sampson, no more three and a half million dollars,” he said.
Cassidy said he wants to know what their options are and he thinks they should let voters decide what they do for the future of the building.
“The voters elected the Town Council to decide,” Farrell said.
Cassidy said he thinks they should have a clear path forward if they are going to be proposing to spend $500,000 for making repairs, saying he thinks at that point they are committing themselves to spend more.