Lanesborough Eyeing Police Station Renovation

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The Board of Selectmen is looking at a renovation of the police station.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Selectmen are looking at a multiphase renovation of the police station.
Town meeting already has allocated about $25,000 to renovate the heating system. But, in his work through the town's energy committee, Selectman Robert Ericson says the building needs a lot more.
"The question we have to ask ourselves is if we want to keep this building or put a new building in its place?" Ericson said at Monday's meeting. "Is there a meaningful way to save it at a fairly low cost?... Or, we should start taking a section of it and rehabilitating it so we are doing a section a year."
The building was constructed in the 1800s so it has historic value as well, Ericson said. But the negatives of that is that it is poorly insulated, has antiquated infrastructure and is not energy efficient.
Ericson filed a report citing numerous complaints in the 1,544-square-foot building. He cites not only infrastructure problems but also handicapped accessibility, space needs, additions to create more efficiency, an electrical system that had been modified nearly a dozen times and sanitary and safety risks.
"Basically, the place is in pretty sad shape," he said.
The building has to be completely gutted and renovated or torn down and built new. In renovation, the building could be done one section per year over a four-year period, he said. That wouldn't displace the officers during construction.
Town Administrator Paul Sieloff said he's concerned with the cost. He estimated it would be more than $100,000 to completely renovate the building. Sieloff said the goal was to get the big-ticket items — the heating system because currently there is no hot water — and some roof work fixed with this year's allocation.
"We thought we could do the whole job or at least a really good effort for $25,000," Sieloff said, but Ericson's report shows drastically more needs.
With winter approaching, the town is hoping to fix us the heating system with the already allocated funds. Ericson is hoping the town will install a propane furnace instead of an oil-burner.
"Certainly, a big no-brainer is a conversion of the oil heater to gas. You already are going to gain 22 percent efficiency," he said.
Selectman Henry "Hank" Sayers wants estimates for both oil and a propane conversion before moving forward. He asked for quotes in the next few weeks and for the police not to refill the oil tank just yet.
"I think we should do both, oil and propane and price out the entire job," he said.
Sieloff added, "I don't want to put $25,000 of town funds into something the town isn't committed to keeping."
The town accepted a $19,000 bid from Miller's petroleum for new gas pumps at the station. The gas pumps are for all town vehicles but the current ones are out of date. The new ones will also include a computerized counting system to keep track of usage — resulting in a significant reduction in paperwork.
Sieloff added that McCann Technical School is willing to build a structure to cover the pumps to protect them from the weather.

Tags: historical building,   police station,   renovation,   

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Children Learn About Wildlife at Richmond Free Library

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Children pet Chili the chinchilla. 

RICHMOND, Mass. — There were some furry and feathery guests of honor at the Richmond Free Library this weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, founder of Nature Matters Jennifer Leahey wowed local children and parents  with a presentation of live animals.

This event was sponsored by the Richmond Cultural Council, said Library Director Kristin Smith. "We are grateful for their continued support."

Though this is not the first time the library has hosted an animal event, it was Nature Matter's first time here. The event was at full capacity, and each of the socially distanced chairs placed in a semi-circle full of eager animal lovers.

The presentation was aimed at families and children of all ages.  Leahey was chosen by the library because her programs are about connecting people with animals, because she rescues animals and turns those that cannot be released into animal educators, and because she is from Berkshire County, Smith said.

Additionally, this presentation was a safe, socially distanced event where all attendees wore masks.

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