Vernon Town Hall third-floor project now underway
By Jessica Ciparelli
Right now, it's a large, empty space, but over the next eight or nine months, the third floor of Vernon Town Hall will evolve into a fully-functional space, with a council chamber with permanent seating for councilors, gallery space and new offices for the mayor, town administrator and the human resources department.
"I've always said 'open door policy,' but even with an open door policy, I have no door," Mayor Ellen Marmer said of the current cubicle set-up she has on the second floor. It is expected the finance department will shift into the vacated space on the second floor, according to Town Administrator Christopher Clark.
The project is being funded by a $1.2 million Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism grant - a legislatively directed capital improvement bond-funded grant, according to Wayne Gannaway, construction grants coordinator for the CCCT. The money was approved about two years ago with the help of Rep. Claire Janowski, who noted the third floor has been in the same condition for seven years.
"This has been like this since, my God, when I was on the council," said Janowski. "They ran out of money." When Janowski was elected to the legislature in 2001, she was asked to seek out funding to finish the project.
"I'm pleased that finally, thanks to the state, we have the funding to get this finished," she said.
"What's great about it is it gives a new lease on life for a historic building," said Gannaway. "It helps revitalize downtown."
Tony Gogliettino, superintendent for the general contractor A. Secondino and Son, said his crews have already been on the job for several weeks, and he sees the job being done by July 2008.
"Eight or nine months from now, [we] should be cutting the ribbon," he told those who had gathered to see the concepts of the space and progress so far.
Clark noted that, while the original bid came in higher than the funds available, the contractor has been able to come up with creative ways to reduce costs.
"They were exceptionally helpful," he said. He added with the gallery space, the project will not only serve as a government hub, but also a cultural arts space.
"I'm looking forward to the ribbon cutting to acknowledge that it's complete," he said.
Marmer added that she hopes it will help draw people to downtown and aid in Rockville's revitalization.
"Believe it or not, there are people in town that don't even know what downtown, Rockville looks like," she said. "We need to have people other than people using the hospital using downtown."