Rockingham Town Hall roof targeted for solar project

Rockingham Town Hall. Photo provided.

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – The Rockingham Town Hall, which is located on The Square in Bellows Falls, is in desperate need of a new roof. The project has also brought forth the option of adding a solar array atop the building.

At a selectboard meeting back in January, Town Manager Scott Pickup talked to the Rockingham Selectboard and Bellows Falls Village Trustees about how the town is researching to determine what it would take to reinforce the roof to support a solar array installation.

The town hired the Brattleboro firm, Stevens & Associates, to assess the roof, with initial reports in December indicating that the roof’s trusses would need to be reinforced in order to support a new membrane, as well as the possible solar array project. Further investigation was needed to find out the possible weight of a solar panel being placed on the roof. The estimated cost of the roof project, not including the possible solar project, was around $800,000.

In search of avenues to help with the funding of the roof project, Pickup indicated that the town and village’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds could be an option. ARPA consists of federal funding ($30.5 billion) to support and provide emergency grants and/or lending to towns and small businesses hit hard by the effects of the Covid pandemic.

Pickup also indicated at the selectboard meeting that preliminary budgeting could see the town allocating approximately $75,000 of its $400,000 ARPA funds towards the town hall project. The village also received ARPA funding, as did the town of Saxtons River.

“The next step for the potential new town hall roof, is to work with the Windham Regional Commission in order to apply for a new roof membrane, and to evaluate other energy efficiency options such as the solar array idea,” Pickup said in a recent interview.

The new grant program, called the Municipal Energy Resilience Program, is designed to target communities most in need of improving their energy resilience. The program provides staff support and application and technical assistance, and funding to help communities become more energy resilient and efficient.

The Rockingham Town Hall building is owned by the town, not the village, and as the building approaches its hundredth birthday, the town has already paid for a series of repairs, and the roof is definitely an aspect that will need to be addressed regardless. “All of the welding has been completed and building’s roof truss has been strengthened,” Pickup concluded.


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