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Hopedale - Local Town Pages

Town Hall building conditions discussed

The Hopedale Town Hall building was constructed in 1876 by the Draper family and was deeded to the town for community use the next year. Today, it has several building issues that need to be addressed. Photo credit: Theresa Knapp

By Theresa Knapp

Hopedale Town Hall was built in 1886 and was soon after deeded to the town by the Draper family to serve as a community building. Today, the “Richardsonian Romanesque” building has numerous issues that were discussed by the Select Board at its April 8 meeting. 

Town Administrator Mitch Ruscitti noted there are environmental concerns with the building, it does not have an elevator and is not ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliant, the heat malfunctions in the winter causing town offices to close, and the list goes on. 

Ruscitti said the town should consider how to move forward. He said options could be renovating the current building to which many residents have a personal attachment; leasing or purchasing additional space as had been considered by previous town officials; or building a new building which he believes could be $10 to $12 million “to renovate this building for its current use.” 

Select Board Chair Glenda Hazard acknowledged she was one such resident who has a personal attachment to the building. 

Select Board member Scott Savage said he could not support the idea of a new building because of the town’s fiscal priorities, and suggested the town look at moving offices a few at a time into a new space. He would also support leasing but would prefer the town own any new space. 

Select Board member Bernie Stock said, “We have a lot of distinctions in the Town of Hopedale, and this building has to be the top of the list. Hopedale has never built a Town Hall. This is not a Town Hall. It was never intended to be a Town Hall. It didn’t open as a Town Hall. My dentist used to be on the other side of that wall; my barber was in where the assessors are; there was a library in the next one; the Post Office was over here; this wasn’t a Town Hall.”

Stock, who previously served as Hopedale Town Administrator, continued, “It’s got all kinds of problems in here. When I was here back in ’74, we built the bathrooms downstairs, those were the jail cells. I hate the expression ‘putting lipstick on a pig’ but this thing is what this is. Our problem is, financially, we’re not in a position to build a new town hall…Let me tell you, this building is a disaster and the only way it’s going to work for somebody is if they take it right down to the studs.” 

Hazard told Ruscitti the board was “willing to hear all options” and he will gather information to share with the board.