Bellows Falls Trustees talk town hall roof

Bellows falls trustees discuss town hall roof. Photo provided.

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – On Tuesday, Nov. 21, the Bellows Falls Village Trustees discussed maintenance on the Town Hall and solar for the roof.

Municipal Manager Scott Pickup explained that the roof needs replacing and referred to Village President Deborah Wright’s suggestions for the town to consider renewable energy. The town’s commitments included roof and drain improvements.

Pickup said, “in order to [add] infrastructure, the roof needs to be strengthened.” He asked if there was trustee interest in further strengthening the roof trusses for solar options.

Trustee James McAuliffe asked if there was enough sun. Pickup said there was “a decent amount of direct sunlight” and with the latest improvements, the weight of the structures are decreasing. He said by covering more space they will get a better long-term investment which benefits all taxpayers in the long run.

Trustee Jeff Dunbar mentioned that The Canal House had solar panels.

Wright asked if Pickup was requesting the village to participate with funds.

Pickup said the roof repair would be done anyway and paid for by the Town of Rockingham. The work on the trusses for increased load capacity would need additional funding.

Trustee Stefan Golec asked if there was a problem with the snow load and mentioned that a couple of years ago there was an engineering study done showing a cost of $250,000 for upgrades to the roof.

Pickup said that cost was for fixing the membrane.

McAuliffe reiterated that ARPA funding was distributed by population and the Village of Bellows Falls received a larger piece than rural Rockingham. He said, “it would seem to me this would be a subject of the tri-board, this would be an equitable way of not having Bellows Falls taxpayers pay twice.”

Pickup agreed that reducing operating costs was a benefit to everyone.

Wright said the village does not own the building, Rockingham does.

Trustee Wade Masure wanted to understand the project more asking if the town hall roof truss would be repaired regardless of the solar array. Pickup said the array would increase the amount of work that needs to be done; currently the roof would not support additional weight.

Golec said companies were making panels from light-weight aviation aluminum.

Wright said they would need a big enough photovoltaic system to handle the usage of the building.

McAuliffe hoped a solar expert could look at the current roof to give suggestions.

The village trustees meetings are on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 6 p.m. in the Lower Theatre of the Bellows Falls Opera House, open to the public and available by Zoom and online through FACT TV.

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