Litchfield News

Town hall review committee waiting for estimates (08-08-18)

The wait for estimates of the cost of a new town hall in Litchfield and of converting the former Litchfield County courthouse into a town hall continues for the town hall review committee.
All the committee had received as of its meeting Monday was an estimate of $6.4 million for a new town hall on the lot behind Town Hall. The estimate came from the architect for the project, John Martin of Torrington.
Estimates are pending from Burlington Construction and JLC Pre-Construction Services of Madison. The two firms are also working on estimates of a plan to renovate the old courthouse as a town hall. An initial estimate of a renovation was $4.6 million, but the plan has been altered and the new estimates are expected to be different.
Estimates could be available to the town hall review committee when it meets on Aug. 15.
Eventually, the committee will make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen. If the board accepts the recommendation, a referendum would be held to give voters a say.
The owner of the old courthouse, the greater Litchfield Preservation Trust, supports its re-use as a town hall, according to the organization’s president, Perley Grimes. Grimes promoted the concept in addressing the town hall review committee Monday.
“We’d like to gift it to the town for municipal use,” Grimes said. “It has four good walls and a good roof and could be renovated at less of an expense than building a new town hall.”
The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation also supports re-use of the building as a town hall, according to one of its representatives.
“A recent walk-through confirmed that the courthouse was built for the ages with quality materials and workmanship throughout,” Gregory Farmer wrote in a letter Grimes read to the committee. “Later additions and improvements have generally respected the architectural character of the building while upgrading the functional components to meet changing needs.”
A renovation of the building could qualify for grants, tax credits and special building code considerations that would make the project affordable, according to Farmer. Any financial assistance, however, would likely be minimal, according to Grimes.