Thursday, August 30, 2007
still and obstacle for Grasmere Hall
BY DAVE CHOATE
The Grasmere Town Hall may look like it is in the midst of a major renovation, but at the moment the changes are mostly cosmetic. Until money meant for the building is freed up, it will likely remain that way.
Right now, the first floor is home to meeting rooms and Merri Loo preschool, but it’s the potential of the second floor that has some intrigued.
Elizabeth Dubrulle has been involved with the renovations of the old town hall as a member of the Historic District Commission, and said the second floor holds a theater capable of seating 225 people. There’s money that was allocated for the second floor, but Dubrulle said the problem is getting at it.
“It has the potential to be a great community meeting center. We have money that was allotted to us, but then the voters decided that we and the selectmen could not access it,” she said.
With that money in limbo, Dubrulle said there is still debate about what to do with the building. She said there always have been some townspeople who would like to sell or tear down the building and others who want it preserved.
She noted that the Grasmere Town Hall is on the National Historic Building Registry, having been around since 1889.
Selectman Phil D’Avanza has been working with the committee for a long time. He said the town had two town halls at one point, but the other burned to the ground and the lot was left vacant for years. Much like the Grasmere Town Hall, the destroyed hall had a remarkable theater, though it was used for opera.
D’Avanza said the process of getting the Grasmere Town Hall’s first and second floors open has been a long process, with discussions and plans for the renovations beginning back in 1990. He said his committee has been raising money and matching every dollar put in by donors, but that the current situation is now keeping the project in stasis.
“You think you’re getting there, but sometimes you have to fall back on your message. All the foundation and all the beginning work has been completed, so now we’re at the final stage of it. I think going forward definitely benefits the community,” D’Avanza said.
He estimated that 15 to 20 percent of the total cost of the project has come from taxpayers. For now, the building is still getting some minor cosmetic changes, including a new coat of paint. Until next March’s ballot, however, the plans will have to remain on hold.
“It’s in limbo until we get the money, I guess,” Dubrulle said.
Reproduced by the Goffstown