Town Hall plans remain unchanged
Published 11:31 am, Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Although residents and town officials spoke out against the conservative design for the proposed Town Hall building, the latest plans, presented to the Town Hall Building Committee III Monday night, remain the same.
KSQ Architects displayed plans for a Town Hall superficially indistinguishable from previous plans. The biggest alterations included possibly adding about 2,000 square feet of storage space to the basement level, widening the entrance driveway and keeping it two-way, eliminating a three-point turn in the parking lot, and a discussion of whether the bricks should be monochrome or range in tones.
At the March 11 public hearing, several residents, including some of the town's most prominent architects, complained that the plans were too plain.
"No one on this committee is going to be a hero by cutting $200,000, $300,000 or $500,000 from the budget to make an uninspired building," architect and Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission Laszlo Papp had said at the March public hearing.
"We heard a lot of comments from architects in the audience that they'd like to see more of a statement building but I think more of the sense of our committee is a quieter statement," Armand Quadrini, the building's architect, said at the meeting. "We're really comfortable with the building we've brought forward."
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But the consensus of the committee at the April 8 meeting seemed to be that the plans were where they ought to be.
"I feel that we're on the right track," Town Hall Building Committee Chairman Michael Avgerinos said.
Engel asked if the basement level could be expanded and used for offices, in an attempt to increase the capacity of the new building. The suggestion was met with skepticism by many about how much it would cost to dig out more area and get it into workable space.
"I bet that before [people like] me asking questions, I.M. Pei didn't think of putting the whole Louvre under ground with just a couple pyramids on top," Engel said.
"Well, the French budget deficit ..." Building Committee member Neil Budnick began, to laughs from the audience.
One aspect of the plans that First Selectman and Building Committee member Robert Mallozzi was enthusiastic about was that the service departments that people use in Town Hall (the tax department, town clerk, etc.) would be all accessible on the first floor.
"My dad can come in and get all services on one level without going up stairs without taking the elevator," he said.
One exception might be for public meetings, as the meeting room was placed on the second floor in the plans. Quadrini explained that there were many benefits to that arrangement, including structural reasons, cost and the height of the ceiling. He noted that several nearby towns also have their meeting spaces on the second floor of their buildings.
In other news from the night, the committee agreed to start the bidding process for the demolition of the building, keeping on track with the schedule. According to Avgerinos, the building will be demolished over the summer, and Main Street will be torn up to lay down wires and pipes in August, when residents are out of town for vacation and kids have not yet returned to school.
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