The demolition of the red brick garage at 64 Richmond Hill Road has been the subject of discussion for years now. After receiving bids of more than $100,000 for demolition, the Department of Public Works came to the Board of Selectmen Tuesday morning for guidance on how to move forward. The three board members determined the bids received for demolition were too costly.

"We are not going to spend that kind of money to demolish the building," Selectman Rob Mallozzi said. "I believe what this does is just prolong the debate of what we do with the building. Right now, I think my greatest concern is that the building does not cost us any money as a town."

After the last discussion, which took place in October, Assistant Director of Public Works Tiger Mann asked TRC Associates for a pre-demolition assessment on the building. TRC estimated around $75,000 to $80,000. Public Works received two bids with the low one coming in at $135,425 and the high one coming in at more than $400,000. The account designated for the demolition by the town has a little more than $18,000. If the demolition were to go forward, it would likely require a special appropriation for it to be completed.

"At present we are looking where to go from here," Mann told the Board of Selectmen. "Even if we come to the $75,000 to $80,000 range [through more bids] is that still too strong for the town's palette or not? So we are looking for a little guidance from the board as to how to move forward."

Mann offered alternatives for the time being on making the building more aesthetically pleasing by removing the exterior staircase. TRC Associates estimated, because of the lead paint and environmental issues involved, that would cost between $25,000 to $50,000.

"No harm no foul leaving it the way it is." Mallozzi added. "I think we have the luxury of time now to really contemplate."

First Selectman Jeb Walker and Selectman Sally Hines agreed, saying the best way to move forward is to continue the discussion and take a look at alternatives for the building suggested by residents from both sides on the issue.

"I agree with Rob. The expense is too great," Walker said. "I think we have to have a closer look at a number points."

Hines also added that a larger meeting in the future should be used to discuss all alternatives including demolition options and different uses for the structure. It was determined by all three members of the board that since the building is on park property it should be dealt with by the Parks and Recreation Department first.

It was actually Parks and Recreation that passed a resolution to remove the building back in 2005.

"I think the first step is for parks and recreation to reaffirm that resolution that they did nearly six years ago," Walker said. "It is probably worthwhile to re-travel that process."

Obviously the issue of demolition has become more complicated due to the exorbitant costs attached to the process.

"I think we need to do some more investigation and make sure there is a willingness of these other boards to reopen that deal," Mallozzi said.

The next step in the process will involve discussions with Parks and Recreation and Planning and Zoning on placing the initiative on their agendas in the coming months before it comes back to the Board of Selectmen.

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