SANDOWN – The board of selectmen, on a suggestion by the Sandown Historical Society, has agreed to initiate a report by a Vermont-based architect and train station expert on the condition of the Train Depot.
Frank J. “Jay” Barrett of Barrett Architects made the trip from Fairlee, Vt., to meet with the selectmen on Monday, Oct. 26. He had previously met with Historical Society representatives in 2014, but was recently contacted again and on Monday gave the selectmen an overview of what they can expect to do with the historic structure and how he may be able to help.
Barrett noted that he’s a 21-year veteran of his own town’s selectboard and explained both what the town could do with the depot and how he understood towns and their finances.
Barrett cited his experience in train station restoration, including that of his own home, one of two stations in his area. One restoration in Lisbon, N.H., brought back the most decrepit station Barrett had ever witnessed to an award-winning historical structure, he said.
There has been some concern over the years with Sandown’s Depot, used by the society as its historic museum, over what can be done to restore it, given that it is listed with both the state and national historic registers. Concerns have been that certain repairs could force the building to be delisted.
Barrett said these were voluntary listings and in his experience there was more disinformation about that status than information. But that being said, he noted that he had experience with those requirements and could help steer the town through them, working with the relevant agencies.
The architect said he could be of some use to the town, without making a larger project out of the building than its leaders wanted, in creating a small report that could lay out an evaluation of the structure and make suggestions on different routes the town could take.
“My first question, is why would you be a selectman for 21 years?” asked selectman Tom Tombarello, jokingly. Ultimately Tombarello sought information on the fee that Barrett’s expertise would entail.
Barrett explained that if he were contracted on a restoration, he preferred to be paid hourly, as the final goal can be nebulous on such a project, but if the town wanted him to write up a report, he could do it for between $500 and $600.
It’s a nice ride to Sandown and he’s interested in the building, explained Barrett.
Tombarello said the town had “renewed its vows” with the historical society after a couple years of tumultuous relations and he’d like to see the building improved.
“The building’s too valuable to just sit there,” said Tombarello.
Town administrator Lynne Blaisdell said that while she thought it was a great plan, the board should be cognizant of how tight the budget is as they approach the end of the fiscal year. She also suggested that it made sense to put together a report and then potentially put its contents to voters to see their appetite for repairs.
Barrett explained that he would draw up a specific proposal so the town knew what it was getting from him. This report could help the town decide what portions of the building to investigate for repairs over time, but if moving forward with any construction, he recommended putting together a good set of electronic architectural drawings to help that process.
All selectmen present – Jon Goldman was not in attendance – agreed to move forward with the report.
In other business:
- The Police Department has earned a grant from New Hampshire Fish and Game for another summer of ATV (all-terrain vehicle) patrols on the rail trail. Police chief Joe Gordon said his department didn’t think the grant was coming, but he recently learned that Fish and Game had found some money and had given the town $2,160 for the targeted patrols.
The money is to put extra patrols on the trails to make sure the oft-used area is being respected. The chief expects to start the patrols once the ice and snow melts next spring.