Renovation Plans for Former Lions Hall OK’d

By Chris Paul

During the Monday night, July 10, Town Council meeting, the board gave the go-ahead to withdraw nearly $19,000 from ARPA (American Rescue Plan) funds to study what can be done with the vacant Lions Hall near the Town Common.
Department of Public Works (DPW) Director, Dave Wholley, explained to the council that he would be using $18,750 to contract the company Weston & Sampson for a study on what can be done with the Lions Hall and how to best utilize the town-owned property.
The DPW recently removed the Christmas Tree Corral and the shack that had been on the property. The Londonderry Lions Club had used that area for over twenty years to sell Christmas trees, but has been deteriorating recently.
Wholley told members that over the past year, the town has had a number of engineers take a lot at the building and they believe the hall is salvageable.
Wholley said, “It is not in modern standards, as far as ADA compliance.” Adding it needs electrical and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) upgrades. He added, “If we are going to purpose it for any municipal use, there’s a lot of upgrading that needs to take place.”
He explained that the current plan isn’t to draw up the future of the building, but to get a better understanding of what it can be used for.
“We’re trying to move this project forward in a respectful, timely manner and listen to everyone’s concerns,” he added.
He suggested that the town could still use the building as a meeting place, something that has been done for decades.
The contract with Weston & Sampson would generate a Site Plan Concept Rendering, a Building Exterior View, and a Building Floor Plan Concept.
Wholley also mentioned that he was hoping to uncover a number of historic qualities of the building that have been hidden over the years with modern building materials.
Town Councilor, Chad Franz, asked how much is currently available in the ARPA fund, to which the Town Manager told him 2,032,000.
It was also asked what the next steps would be. Wholley explained that this is the second step of the process and the next step would be focused on design and construction through a Warrant Article, adding that the ARPA fund would not be able to be used in the next phase.
The issue with water flowing beneath the building was also discussed. That issue has been a real structural problem for years and Wholley said that this report by Weston & Sampson would give them a better idea for solutions to that problem.
Earlier in the meeting, during Public Comment, resident, Richard Bielinski, raised issues regarding funding the project, stating that according to the Town’s Lease Agreement with the Lions from 1972, they were responsible for all maintenance of the building and despite that, the tax-payers spent about $80,000 on repairing the floor a number of years ago. He asked, “What is the town going to do to get the taxpayers $80,000 back.”
He said he expected an answer to that question at a future Town Council meeting.
Local historian, Ann Chiampa, also spoke on the building during Public Comment, stressing the history of the building as the Meetinghouse. She urged that the council retain the character of the existing building.
The Town Council allowed Wholley to move forward with the next step in the plan.

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