POWNAL, Vt. -- The Select Board recently accepted bids to tear down the Bartels Lodge.
The bids had two aspects, one for asbestos removal, the other for removal of the building itself. Catamount Environ mental Inc. was the sole bidder for asbestos removal, at $9,950.
Board Chairman Stephen Kauppi voted to accept the bid, as did board members Dale Palmer and Michael George. Board members Ronald Bisson and Nelson Brownell abstained from the Thursday vote last week.
TAM Inc. won the demolition bid at $14,875. Kauppi, Palmer and George voted for it, Bisson voted no, while Brownell abstained. The other bidder was Jerome Con struction at $23,258.
Kauppi said the asbestos removal requires Catamount to get a number of state permits in place before it can do the work, which may take a few weeks. TAM cannot demolish the building until the asbestos is removed.
Both companies will remove their respective materials and dispose of it, while the town may keep some concrete from the foundation to be used through the road crew. Kauppi said the work would likely be done before winter given weather concerns.
Bartels Lodge sits at the end of Center Street and is part of a historic district. The town owns the building and land, which it bought in 2005 for $60,000. The building has been at the center of numerous public debates, having been bought with plans for it to be used as a new town office. The board last discussed the matter at a regular meeting just over two weeks ago when it voted to put the demolition out to bid.
It was at that meeting that Kauppi told resident Eve Pearce, a vocal proponent of preserving the lodge, that if she wanted to take the building home with her, she could. The board read a letter from Pearce at its most recent meeting in which she said she would be happy to do that but would need until Dec. 13 to put a plan together for the building to be moved.
Kauppi said he was being sarcastic when he told her that, and furthermore didn't have the backing of the board when he said it.
Pearce's offer appeared to be the reason Bisson and Brownell did not vote to accept the bids.
Bisson said if Pearce can move the building at no cost to the town, it would save the taxpayers money on the cost of destroying it. He said if Pearce couldn't get a plan together by then, that could be the end of the discussion. Brownell added that the bids themselves are good for 60 days and to wait for Pearce would only take up 30 of them.
Julius Rosenwald, a resident, said he has no love for Bartels Lodge but questioned removing it without knowing how that might affect federal or state grant funding should the town seek to build a new building on the site. Kauppi said he could not guarantee it wouldn't, but felt that given the time the board has spent discussing the lodge and its condition, it could make the case that due diligence was done in seeking preservation opportunities.
Rosenwald said he spoke to a person who moves buildings for a living and was given a guess that it would cost $40,000 to move the lodge across the street. He said that's more dream than a realistic plan, but it gives an idea on cost, assuming utility wires don't have to be moved.
Kauppi said it has become difficult to find bidders for work regarding the building, as the town has been unwilling to commit to action and that wastes the bidders' time and money. Board members Palmer and George said it was made clear by those present at an informational meeting held earlier in October that the townspeople wanted the building down, as many felt it was a safety hazard in addition to a waste of the board's time.
At town meeting this year, voters approved two ballot articles, one that called for the lodge's removal, the other that called for it to be sold to a group that would preserve it. A group wishing to preserve the lodge had its attorney, Paul Gillies, of Montpelier, send the board a letter saying he would pursue an injunction against the board should it remove the building.
Gillies said the article calling for the preservation was more directive while the other more permissive which gave it more weight.
He said the order they appeared on the ballot or the number of votes were not factors.