BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – On Tuesday, Oct. 16, the Rockingham Selectboard voted to share the cost of a temporary barricade solution with the Bellows Falls Village Trustees on the north lane of School Street extension adjacent to 66 Atkinson St. Everett Hammond, director of Public Works, stated that the jersey barricades and fencing could cost up to $7,301 with $2,000 of that in installation and about $400 per month if rented by the town. The Board lamented that the structure at 66 Atkinson St. should have been taken care of by the YMCA, who owned it for many years before recently donating the building to the Bellows Falls Cultural Preservation Project.
Bellows Falls resident Chris Glennon stepped up to help preserve the historical site by purchasing it a couple of years ago. Glennon’s primary goal was to save the building from demolition. He has looked into a variety of roofing materials, including cedar shake, a considerably lighter load for the roof trusses. All avenues pose to be quite costly, resulting in the building’s present condition.
The old church has deteriorated enough to warrant safety concerns for pedestrians and the children that pass by daily. This has led to the mutual agreement amongst board members for the temporary solution of barricades. Selectboard member Peter Golec asked, “I assume they [the owner] want the town to swallow the bill?”
Stefan Golec agreed, “[The town] can’t be in the real estate business for derelict properties.”
Resident Jason Terry commented that the slate on the roof must be of some value and that the building could then be burnt as a fire exercise.
Village President Deborah Wright mentioned a GoFundMe page she had started on Facebook for the property with the goal of raising $40,000. The Selectboard consented to share the cost for the temporary solution of barricades with the Village Trustees with the addition of a lien for the full amount of $7,301 to be placed upon the property.
The structural engineers report will be available by next week and with it more decisions for the future of 66 Atkinson Street.
The Rockingham Selectboard will next meet with the Village Trustees at the Joint Board meeting Tuesday, Oct. 30. The VTrans Alternatives Presentation highlighting the future of the bridges to the island will be Nov. 27 at 5 p.m. prior to the Village Trustees meeting.