Historical Commission Meeting October 22, 2018
Called to Order at 5:32 pm
Present: Sonia Morrison, Judi Mabee Lauretta Harris, Thom Garvey
Absent: Diane Provence, Charles Rosenblum
Guest: Tom Ragusa, Don Hawley, Celeste Watman. Eve Kummel
Minutes of 9/26/18 meeting tabled until next meeting due to recorder issue.
Harmony Hall– Sonia said she wrote to Larry about working together on this issue but has not heard back from him yet. She said emergency monies can be made available to us by the MA Historical Society and the building does not have to be “Landmarked” to receive it. It can be used for any part of the building that is failing. Our commission would like to use as much outside money as possible and with half of what is needed for repairs being paid through grants and the rest through fundraising is our goal.
We have been advised by the Town Administrator that there is a coming meeting hosted by the Berkshire Planning Organization that we might want to attend. Sonia said she would try to make it.
Sonia told us that Larry had raised issues at the Planning Board meeting regarding ADA and monies spent vs. assessed value. We should look into a 5 year plan to make sure we can meet the guidelines.
Eve had questions about what our commission believed this building should be used for and why it should be preserved rather than spend the money on something new. We advised that its use should be a town decision. Judi noted that it makes more sense to see if we can preserve the entire building with a less expensive lift to the 2nd floor so that the public could make suggestions based on that square footage. Our first step is to get the funds and then see what uses would be best suited for the building.
Sonia said Paul Holz of the MA Historical Society said since Harmony Hall has historic value it could be moved into emergency classification, we would then need inventory, estimates of repairs, engineering report and photos.
Celeste asked about grants through the Circuit Rider Organization. It is a group of preservationists that will come speak to us and offer information on resources.
We now have 3 buildings in town to work with. The old school house in East Otis, St. Paul’s, and Harmony Hall.
Tom Ragusa and Sonia took a walk on the trail and were accompanied by employees of the solar group – a large solar farm in the same area. They are creating a buffer zone between their area and the Knox Trail – even planning precautions such as screening and planting and maybe a sign. In addition, there is an old cellar hole along the way that shows on the survey that is supposed to have been an early tavern. Because it is partly on private land we would have to get the owners permission to add that as a monument on MACRIS.
The Wolcott stone is already on the MACRIS – we should get a plaque explaining its history. The site where it was found once belonged to the brother of Oliver Wolcott a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Website – Our site needs updating. Sonia said she was willing to have her email added for contact information. Would also like a link back to the town for meeting times.
Membership– Celeste and Tom are interested in becoming alternates. They will try to get their forms completed before the November meeting. We are glad to have their support.
Historic District – next step is to make application and host 2 more public meetings.
Education -Sonia would like to speak to Chris Keller at FRRD to see if he is interested in bringing the history of town to life with his class. There were a few ideas mentioned to make it a fun activity for the children.
Meeting adjourned 7:50