Hadley to hire expert to examine how best to use spaces at Town Hall, former Goodwin Library

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 06-15-2024 5:01 PM

HADLEY — An architectural engineer could soon be hired by the town to do a feasibility study for identifying the best use of both office and storage space at two Hadley center buildings, the former Goodwin Memorial Library and Town Hall.

Town Administrator Carolyn Brennan told the Select Board at its June 12 meeting that she is putting together a request for proposals that would bring a professional in to examine both historic buildings and understand how they can best be used by town departments over the next five to 10 years, and beyond.

“It is really to set the team up and what the town needs for space, now and in the future,” Brennan said.

Such a professional space study, she said, will be used to progress toward saving the buildings. The architectural engineer would also be responsible for completing elevator designs.

Before the Select Board authorizes the study, Brennan will provide cost estimates for the work. The town is already paying about $40,000 for an ongoing study of the former Russell School, which, like both Goodwin and Town Hall, is in town center.

At annual Town Meeting in 2020, voters approved $226,093 from the Community Preservation Act account to renovate Goodwin for town office use, understanding that the new Hadley Public Library would be opening. But Brennan said little of that has been used, for various reasons, including the COVID pandemic, the cost of building materials and lack of staff to coordinate.

Of that, $201,957 is left, along with $25,000, also from CPA, for an elevator design for Goodwin, which is not fully accessible.

“The reality is you will have to do an elevator at both buildings,” Brennan said.

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Since the new library opened, there has been limited uses of Goodwin, including by Hadley Media and occasional exhibits by the Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation.

“It is definitely getting underutilized right now,” Brennan said. “We definitely don’t want it to just sit there.”

Select Board member David J. Fill II said any study should also consider the town’s need for flex office space for when other building projects are underway, such as if the new Department of Public Works headquarters moves forward.

“We have to worry about our permanent departments, but we also have a constant need for temporary space,” Fill said.

A memo from Brennan notes there is also a need to possibly relocate the server room at Town Hall, which needs to be accompanied by a generator, to either the Dennis J. Hukowicz Public Safety complex or the North Hadley Fire substation.

The study would likely lead to providing estimates for cost of any construction in the buildings, which Brennan reports will likely be more than $1.5 million and necessitate hiring an owner’s project manager and architect before any work could begin.

Other business

In other business, the board continued discussing the job description and salary range for a joint human resources and assistant town administrator position.

Brennan said she is concerned that $80,000 won’t be sufficient to attract a qualified assistant town administrator with human resources responsibilities.

The Select Board joined two other municipal panels in filling vacancies.

Crystal Jackson is filling one of two seats on the Hadley Housing Authority, receiving a unanimous vote from both. Jackson serves on the Cultural Council, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, Friends of the Library, the Housing and Economic Development Committee and the Digital Equity Steering Committee.

“She would make a very good addition for the board of commissioners for Hadley Housing Authority,” said Rise Smythe-Freed, who chairs the commission.

Julia Rose, who has worked as a freelance journalist and a former foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State, will join the library trustees. Rose said she feels the library is an essential part of community and would advocate for it. Rose has also served for six years on the town’s Cultural Council. Lynne Latham, who chairs the trustees, said her board previously voted unanimously on Rose’s candidacy.

The Select Board, at the request of DPW Supervisor Scott McCarthy, is naming Ted Casey, a current employee, as temporary interim supervisor, a position that has been vacant. Casey will be in the job for 90 days, at which time the board will evaluate the appointment.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.