New China committee looks at additional space for town office

by Mary Grow

At their Sept 23 meeting, members of the China Building Committee officially named themselves the Municipal Building Committee (MBC) and proceeded with preliminary plans for recommending additional space at the town office.

Their main focus is on storage space, but as they looked ahead three decades they also considered whether more, or differently arranged, office and work space should be part of a recommendation to selectmen.

Committee Chairman Sheldon Goodine had sketched a plan for a separate building south of the present building, reached by a corridor from the meeting room on the west end, as a starting point for discussion. He considered it more attractive than a right-angled extension.

Another suggestion, from Codes Officer and committee member Jaime Hanson, was a three-sided “bump-out” on the south side.

Town Clerk Angela Nelson explained which records town officials are required to keep forever and which they are allowed to discard after a certain number of years. Related issues were which materials need to be in a climate-controlled area, which require fire-proof storage and how much security is required.

Committee members considered the possibility that paper records will become obsolete. They do not foresee an immediate change to all-digital record-keeping.

The town office also stores voting machines, decorations and supplies for holidays (like Christmas and China Community Days) and other miscellaneous things.

Goodine and Hanson gave themselves assignments as the next step in drafting a plan. They will estimate the present storage space and the volume of material in it; Hanson will measure and photograph the building as it is and will locate underground lines and pipes; and Goodine will interview office staff members individually to get their suggestions.

Hanson will also look into legal requirements. For example, he said, building codes require a certain amount of natural light. If the requirement applies to a storage facility, a windowless space, as Goodine suggested for security, would be illegal.

Committee members set no deadline for presenting a recommendation to the selectmen. As of Sept. 23, they do not anticipate asking for building money in the 2022-23 town budget.

They scheduled their next meeting for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28.


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