Transformation of Raymond School moving forward

  • One of the classrooms at the former Raymond School that will be converted into space for municipal offices. Staff Photo/Greg Vine

  • Royalston Building Committee member Tom Musco points out some of the demolition work done recently in the former Raymond School. The former school is being converted into office space for municipal departments. Staff Photo/Greg Vine

  • Royalston Building Committee member Tom Musco points out some of the demolition work done recently at the former Raymond School. Staff Photo/Greg Vine

  • The view looking up into the attic at the former Raymond School. The building is being transformed into municipal office space. Staff Photo/Greg Vine

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 2/23/2021 2:55:04 PM
Modified: 2/23/2021 2:55:03 PM

ROYALSTON — Thursday’s scheduled meeting of the town’s Building Committee failed to attract a quorum of members, but Chari Jim Barclay and member Tom Musco found time to update the Athol Daily News on the progress being made toward transforming the former Raymond School into municipal office space. The latest task to be completed was the demolition of much of the interior; next comes the insulation.

“The insulation is going to be interesting,” said Barclay. “Standards have changes so much. In the ‘olden days’ all buildings, even the post and beam, had access for air to travel from the building into the attic. Among other things, that led to ice dams over time here in the north. So, you had heat in the attic.

“That apparently is not current best practices, let’s say. So, what we’re doing — our next step — will be to completely isolate the building itself from the attic. The attic will be unheated and separately ventilated.”

Barclay said that, in theory, isolating the attic should extend the life of the shingles and allow for better temperature regulation in the building.

“Many older builders have fought that,” he continued, “saying you don’t have sufficient ventilation in the building itself, that you start getting mold and people start getting sick. But Guardian Energy, the people who have done our analysis, part of the overall plan is that you build in air conditioning systems that turn over the air in the right amount.”

Barclay said the insulation project is being paid for with money from a Green Communities grant.

When the town joined the Green Communities program, Royalston was given a designation grant of just over $129,000.

“The overall goal here is the reduction in greenhouse gases,” said Barclay. “You have to prove chapter and verse what you’re going to save. That was hard for the Raymond School, first of all because the Raymond School — for the last several years — we have owned it but not maintained it; that was the Village School. So, it was pretty tough for us to nail it down and say ‘here’s what it cost for the past five years, and here’s what it’ll cost for the coming five years.’”

The Green Communities grant was first used to convert the lighting that serves all town buildings and facilities to LED. When that job was finished, close to $70,000 in grant funding was left over.

“I believe this insulation is going to cost us around $62,000, round numbers,” Barclay continued. “And so, we do have approval from Green Communities — we wrote that narrative up. Interestingly, the people in that Green Communities organization almost led the charge; they almost led us down the road by hand, and helped us out immensely, figuring out how to justify this.

“It was hard. It was almost like proving that you didn’t spend something. But the savings will be significant. The goal is net zero emissions — that you don’t lose anything. You put some heat in and it heats the building, it doesn’t heat the center of Royalston. It’s impressive.”

Barclay said the next step will be to move some of the town offices currently housed at Whitney Hall into the Raymond building. The remaining offices at Whitney will be relocated sometime after that.

“The only thing we can do right now is get it open,” he said, “and it’s really going to be one big room in what used to be the second grade. We’ll do temporary walls in there just to get some people into the building. That’s all we can really afford right now.”

Eventually, according to the current proposal, the former school will house a total of 14 or 15 offices and other rooms. The lower level will include four offices, a meeting room, a break room and a space for archives in what used to be the furnace room.”

At some point, an elevator will need to be constructed to bring the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Current plans call for the elevator to be housed in a shaft to be constructed on the exterior of the building and would also provide service to a new public safety building, which town officials hope to build adjacent to the former school.

The Raymond School was constructed in 1938 or ’39 by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration.

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com


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