BRADFORD — A town committee has taken a can-do approach to saving the Town Hall building: It is trying to raise about half of the cost of renovating the building privately to make doing the job more attractive to residents.
Town Hall, built in 1797, is Bradford's "most valuable property asset," according to the Town Hall Restoration Committee.
The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1863 the former "meeting house" was moved from Center Bradford and reconstructed in its present location at 75 West Main St.
In 2005 and in 2008, restoration of Town Hall was brought up at Town Meeting but no actions were taken, officials said. In 2010, structural and furnace concerns and the presence of asbestos forced the town to move all of its offices and its police department to other nearby buildings.
Prior to this year's meeting, town officials formulated a $1.76 million bond issue for restoration and repair of the building, but the issue failed to get its needed two-thirds vote for passage.
The Town Hall Restoration Committee was formed in November of 2011 to restore Town Hall to a functional building for municipal services and community use.
"The best investment for the town is to modernize the building to provide for the town's present needs, as cost effectively as possible, so that it can continue to serve Bradford for many years to come, consistent with its historical character," the committee said in its mission statement.
The committee is now trying to raise $700,000-$800,000 from private sources and donations to offset the $1.76 million bond issue price tag to make restoration more tax-friendly to residents.
"We're trying to get it down below $1 million," said Selectman John D. Pfeifle, who serves on the committee. "It would be a tragedy not to have this restored for the people of Bradford to enjoy."