Residents Vote to Keep Perkinsville School

Weathersfield — Residents agreed by voice vote Monday night to retain town ownership of the 1879 portion of the former Perkinsville School.

The Weathersfield Selectboard will now have to put together a proposal for renovations to the historic building, estimated to cost between $80,000 and $181,000, depending on the extent of the repairs.

Supporters of keeping what is left of the school after the later additions were demolished earlier this year said the school is a valuable piece of town history.

Ginger Wimberg of the historical society said the school along Route 106 is the last of 13 former school buildings still owned by the town.

“There are a lot of memories wrapped up in that school,” said Wimberg, adding that if renovated it could revitalize the Perkinsville village area.

“Let’s make a statement for saving something that really needs saving,” said resident Matt Keniston. “It is one of a kind.”

Though the vote did not authorize the expenditure of any money, opponents said when the time comes, it will cost a lot more than estimated.

“This has the potential to be a money pit for this town,” said Mike Todd, a candidate for Selectboard in today’s Town Meeting vote and a member of the committee that looked at possible uses for the school after it closed in 2008.

Todd thinks the final cost of renovations to bring the building up to code could be between $200,000 and $300,000.

“It is not something we need, it is something we want,” Todd said. “I don’t think it makes sense.”

Voting on the Town and School warnings continues today at Martin Memorial Hall from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Among the articles to be decided are a $1.3 million bond to expand the Proctor Library, a $5.9 million school budget and a town budget of $1.25 million.

Todd is challenging incumbent Dan Boyer for Selectboard, and Selectman John Arrison has two opponents, Lynn Esty and Charles Horton.

Also Monday night, voters approved by a count of 98-32 designating the town as a “property assessed clean energy” district.

The so-called PACE program offers loans to homeowners to pay for weatherization projects and installation of renewable energy systems. Voters had to approve the town’s participation in the program, which is administered through the state.

There is no cost to the town and participation is voluntary.

The library expansion would more than double the usable space to about 2,200 square feet and provide more room for the library’s collection as well as space for programs, more computers and access to new technologies.

“It is a resource for the future,” said Ernie Shand, chairman of the library trustees.

The library was built in 1902 and is that same size as the day it opened.

When the meeting Monday night at the Weathersfield School in Ascutney started, there were about 270 voters in attendance, or 13 percent of registered voters.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com