POWNAL, Vt. -- The Select Board will host an informational meeting concerning the fate of the Bartels Lodge property today at 6:30 p.m. at the Pownal Elementary School.
Board Chairman Stephen Kauppi said the purpose of the meeting is for the board to state what it knows about the vacant town-owned building in relation to removal costs. The lodge has been the topic of lengthy debates between those who want it restored and those who wish to see it moved or torn down.
Kauppi said he intends to have an agenda for the meeting with space for public comment at the end. The agenda will focus on the cost of the building’s removal and the intent behind its purchase by the town in 2006.
The lodge is at the end of Center Street near the town office and is within a state-recognized historical district. It was bought for $60,000, having been damaged in a fire in 2005. Town leaders indicated the building or the land it’s on might be used for a new town office, but there was no money at the time to move forward.
Debate over the lodge was largely dormant until late last year when Kauppi began pushing for action once Black River Design, an architectural firm, finalized four possibilities for the lodge that the town could not afford. Kauppi has argued the building is being left to deteriorate and the costs associated with removal are going up.
A number of people do not agree with Kauppi and have urged the town to enter a
The board has the power to decide the lodge’s fate. Kauppi said that even so, he would like the townspeople to be more confident in the board’s ultimate decision. The question of what to do with the lodge did go before voters in March in the form of two competing ballot articles, one calling for the lodge’s sale to a group like the trust, the other for its removal, both of which passed.
Action also was delayed on the lodge because of a state police investigation into a number of boards Kauppi took from the site in 2006. Kauppi was asked about it at town meeting where he said he had the Select Board’s permission to take the boards. He has since said permission was not given properly, unbeknownst to him at the time.
Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage re cently said she did not review Kauppi’s case in any detail be cause whatever charges might apply would not meet the statute of limitations.
Kauppi said the complaint filed with police was political in nature. He said he expects the meeting Wednesday will be come heated.
Town Moderator Tim Hol brook has been asked to preside and Constable Albert Lafon taine will be in attendance.