By Elio Gugliotti, Editor
PROSPECT — One long-standing building on the Town Green will be coming down, while another is slated for repairs.
The Prospect Grange Hall on Center Street has sat empty since the Prospect Community Center at the former Community School across the street from the hall opened in early 2017.
Time has taken its toll on the town-owned hall. There are large cracks where the concrete stairs leading to the front door meet the foundation, smaller cracks spread across the front of the building, and roofing fragments litter the ground next to the building.
Aside from the wear and tear, the building isn’t handicap accessible. Officials say it’s not practical to keep the building or cost-effective to repair it and make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Officials are moving ahead with plans to demolish it.
“The community center here has everything that we need. It just doesn’t make sense to keep this building,” said Mayor Robert Chatfield as he spoke with the Town Council’s town building subcommittee and a reporter June 30 in front of the building.
Council member Megan Patchkofsky, who is chairman of the subcommittee, said officials want residents to know the reasoning behind razing the building.
“Our goal is to make sure the public is aware of why it’s coming down,” she said.
Chatfield said the town is waiting on a report of what hazardous materials, like asbestos, are in the building before seeking proposals for the abatement and demolition. The town sought bids in June to abate any hazardous materials, but Chatfield said he will send the job out to bid again after getting the report.
The hall was once a central part of the town when Prospect was a farming community. The original hall was built in 1894. The present building was rebuilt in 1950, according to the property card, after a fire destroyed the original hall. The Prospect Grange transferred ownership of the building to the town in the mid-1990s.
The area of the Green is considered a historic district, officials said, but the building is not on the National Register of Historic Places.
What will be built in its place is still up for discussion, but it won’t be another building.
Officials have talked about building a covered pavilion with a raised stage that can be used during events on the Green. As the project progresses, officials plan to reach out to the public for input on what should be built in place of the building. They want to have a plan in place before demolition starts so the area can be prepared for what will be built.
There is no timetable for when demolition will start. Chatfield said when the building is razed will depend on the cost and be determined after the town receives bids for the work.
As the town moves forward with demolishing the hall, officials are also preparing to repair the Meeting Place.
The Meeting Place, which is across the Green from the hall, was built in 1904 as the town’s first library. The building is still used, though not as much since the community center opened.
Tiles on roof of the building are heaving up in spots and the roof is warping in other areas. There is also a thin crack in the chimney.
Chatfield said the town is looking to make repairs to the building, starting with the roof, in phases over a couple of years. He said there was no thought given to tearing it down.
The town received four responses to a request for proposals seeking architects that have experience working with the Connecticut Historic Commission. Chatfield said he will narrow that down to two for interviews then present a proposal to the council to vote on.
Chatfield said the architect will guide the town on how to do the repairs. He said officials also plan to seek state grants to help pay for the work.