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|The Grange is gone|
|Written by Gillian Smith|
|Wednesday, 15 January 2014 11:34|
As of last Wednesday, the Grange Hall is no more.
The historic building was demolished last week after several years of debate over whether to rehabilitate the building for an affordable housing project. The building, which was built in the late 1880s was in a state of such disrepair that it was obvious it could not be reconstructed to meet current building codes.
“The major problem was trying to convert it from a building that was not designed for residential use and that had been abandoned for years to a residential building that was up to current code standards,” said Scott Lambiase, director of municipal services.
Bringing the building up to code would involve lifting the building off the foundation, collapsing the rubble foundation and putting in a new foundation, then moving the building back on top of the new foundation.
“That process would be a lot more expensive than start- ing from scratch,” Lambiase said.
Lambiase said the building, as it had existed, had very few salvageable pieces. It did not have electrical or plumbing outfits, the exterior had been stripped down to the sheathing and the walls would have had to be taken down to the bare studs.
“It would have been a really substandard shell that would then have to be retrofitted,” he said. “We didn’t need to go through an entire cost analysis, it was obvious it was too expensive to rehabilitate.”
Before the two-day demolition took place, the building was searched for historic artifacts. Several ceremonial piec- es, wooden folding chairs and documents were collected and turned over to the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society. The folding chairs may be cleaned and used at the Tarkiln building. Lambiase said there was little historic significance to the Grange building; the floorboards and deed board were offered to several companies that may have made use of them, but none of the windows was historic and the siding was destroyed by woodpeckers. An addition at the back of the building was built in the 1950s and was encroaching on the neighbor’s property, and Lambiase said it was “kind of good to get that out of there.”
The Grange Hall and a former fire station were purchased with Community Preservation Act money in 2009 with the intention of developing afford- able housing units. The fire station was demolished due to health hazard concerns and the 2010 Town Meeting approved $150,000 in Community Preservation Act Funds to design two units on that site. The Affordable Housing Committee, now the Duxbury Affordable Housing Trust, voted in July 2011 to approve plans for a three-bedroom unit in the Grange Hall on Franklin Street.
Now that the building has been removed, Duxbury Affordable Housing Trust chair Diane Bartlett said the next step is to seek requests for proposals (RFP) from developers and designers for a three bedroom home for the site.
“That will be our ultimate outcome,” she said. “And it will be an affordable housing unit.”
Lambiase is currently working on an RFP and plans to have a final draft to town counsel by next week. He said the hope is to have the RFP out to developers and non-profit organizations within a month and start the process by the spring. Because the site is desgnated for an affordable housing project, it is likely to attract a non-profit organization such as Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity had been interested in the original rehabilitation project but had backed out after the organization was hit by the economic downturn. With the site now essentially a “clean slate,” Lambiase said it’s primed to function better as a non-profit project.
“When you are dealing with volunteer work, the last thing you need is to have a complicated situation with complicated permitting and a complicated design,” he said. “It’s not a prescriptive, cookie cutter design and it would not have made sense to let volunteers with minimal supervision work on it.”
Unless a developer is looking to offset a project it is already working on in town with an affordable project, Lambiase predicts the project will be given to a non-profit.
Barlett said she is happy to see the project finally coming along, after several years of working on project designs and working with various town meeting articles.
“When you are dealing with affordable housing, it’s not unreasonable go jump through hoops and we’ve been working on this for six year,” Bartlett said. “It’s been a long and arduous process and after all this time it’s nice to think a family might move in soon.”
Bartlett said she is excited that the project is on track and an RFP will become a reality.
“On a personal level it is sad to see the building go,” she said. “But the reality is that we cannot afford to waste tax payers’ money to rehabilitate the building. We have to say goodbye.”