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November 24. 2013 8:18PM

Greenfield Planning Board to seek funds to renovate Meeting House

GREENFIELD — As part of the Planning Board’s draft capital improvement program plan that will be presented tonight, board members recommend a major fundraising project for a Meeting House renovation.

“The Planning Board feels that we must begin a major fundraising project to restore the Meeting House to its former glory. Patchwork repairs will further contribute to its decay. Not only should the community appropriate funds into this project, but efforts should be made to pursue grants, private funding and any other source of resources to enhance and preserve this gem,” planners wrote in the draft plan.

Over the past few years, the town has taken on Meeting House building issues — from the roof to the steeple to the painting of the building — one project at a time, Planning Board Chairman Robert Marshall said Friday. What the board is proposing is a needs assessment.

“We’ve noted over the last several years the town has attempted to deal with a lot of the problems having to do with the Meeting House piecemeal,” Marshall said. “Instead of spending $20,000 here and $40,000 there, we ought to do a needs assessment.”

Neighboring towns such as Hancock and Francestown are working through that process to preserve their meeting houses, Marshall said.

Greenfield’s 1791 picture postcard Meeting House is long overdue for a renovation, he said.

“Every several generations or so it’s become the responsibility for the residents to make an investment,” in the Meeting House building, Marshall said. “This is the symbol of our town.”

Tackling a full renovation all at once would likely save money over taking on projects one at a time, Marshall said. Additionally a private fundraising campaign as well as grants for improvements to the historic building, which is listed on the National Register, could dramatically reduce the cost of the project for the town, he said.

The Planning Board will hold a public hearing to discuss the capital improvement program draft plan at the Town Office at 7:30 tonight.

mpierce@newstote.com


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