The Town Hall Building Committee (THBC) was assigned a task to develop a Town Hall building project by the Hamilton Board of Selectmen in January 2017.

View of the proposed addition housing a new elevator and stairwell and the new north side accessibility ramp
View of the proposed addition housing a new elevator and stairwell and the new north side accessibility ramp

Town leaders identified the project need before establishing the committee. The building needs fire suppression, handicapped accessibility to all floors, accessible office space, appropriate restroom facilities, and other interior modifications to appropriately serve the public. The building envelope also needs essential maintenance to replace rotted siding and trim, and the building needs structural upgrades. The existing building systems, such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and lighting, are antiquated and need replacement. The Town Hall has received minimal improvements since 1897, and the proposed project will help protect the building for the next 100 years or longer.

The THBC hired an owner’s project manager and architect in mid-2018. Since then, the THBC met more than 100 times and made two presentations at Town Meeting to further the project. The THBC pledged to deliver a “bid in hand” at Fall 2019 STM to the Special Town Meeting in 2020 after Town Meeting approved the conceptual design. The approved plan will establish an elevator on the exterior of the building, restore the majority of the large meeting space on the second floor, and preserve the grand double-staircase and stage area.

View of the new meeting room on the second level

During the past year, the THBC has worked with LLB Architects to complete the Town Hall restoration and preservation project’s design and development. The process involved input from many citizens and the Hamilton Historic District Commission (HHDC). The final design is complete and formally put out to bid on Sept. 23. The process to this point has cost the town about $800,000 for a project that will cost just more than $9 million, including all design, temporary offices, and moving costs.

The THBC and the design team have made many efforts to save residents money on the project. The committee struck an understanding with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for virtually rent-free space for town employees and operations during the planned two-year construction period. The approved plan will save many elements within the existing building, which will result in savings during the fit-out of the temporary office space.

Second-floor layout plan

The bids will be opened on Nov. 6, immediately before Special Town Meeting on Nov. 14. Special Town Meeting will consider the actual cost of construction, including all costs associated with temporary office space and moving for the project – the estimated costs as of Sept. 29 is $7,924,474.

The THBC received favorable consideration for $3 million in funding from the Community Preservation Committee. If Town Meeting approves the CPC recommendation for $3 million, voters will vote on a $4.9 in a debt-exclusion ballot question. That question would be on a town election ballot on Dec. 3.

The THBC has gained site plan approval from the Planning board, Zoning Approval from the Board of Appeals, and has received support from the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, and the Hamilton Historic District Commission.