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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Amherst Town Hall closed due to structural problems

AMHERST – Structural problems at the town’s 1820s-era Town Hall have forced Amherst officials to close the building until at least Friday.

Repairs on the 1825 brick colonial building were already planned to remedy the rot that has compromised the roof’s support system. But at an emergency meeting Monday, selectmen, town administrator Jim O’Mara, Bruce Berry, director of the Department of Public Works, and an architect decided that immediate work to shore up supports from the building’s basement to the second floor were needed. ...

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AMHERST – Structural problems at the town’s 1820s-era Town Hall have forced Amherst officials to close the building until at least Friday.

Repairs on the 1825 brick colonial building were already planned to remedy the rot that has compromised the roof’s support system. But at an emergency meeting Monday, selectmen, town administrator Jim O’Mara, Bruce Berry, director of the Department of Public Works, and an architect decided that immediate work to shore up supports from the building’s basement to the second floor were needed.

Town officials said it is fortunate the deficiencies were spotted before the brunt of winter hit.

“Had this not been discovered today, the first snowfall of any significance would have surely put us out of business or worse yet, injured an employee or member of the public,” Selectman Dwight Brew said.

Employees have been given the option of staying in the building, staying home or working remotely while demolition work is done to buttress the roof’s supporting beams.

On Friday, Glenn Dodge, of Dodgeco, a New Boston architectural, design and engineering firm, took pictures of the building in preparation for the upcoming work. When he compared the new pictures to ones taken in June, he spotted additional shifting in parts of the building and called for the emergency meeting Monday.

The work to repair the building is already part of the town’s budget, but likely not to the extent that is apparently needed, according to selectmen’s Chairman Bruce Bowler.

O’Mara met with employees Tuesday morning to explain the situation and said there’s plenty of work to be done while the building is closed to the public.

“Jeans and sweatshirts will be the uniform of the day while the professionals perform the demolition necessary to expose the beams that will need to be buttressed,” O’Mara said.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashua telegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).