Royalston Selectboard gets buildings repair update

  • Whitney Hall in Royalston's South Village was constructed in 1905. It served as a school and event venue for many years. The roof at Whitney Hall is also slated for some repair work. Staff photo/Greg Vine

  • Royalston Public Works Director Keith Newton and DPW Administrative Assistant Michelle Deline discuss repairs scheduled for several town buildings at a recent meeting of the town's Selectboard. Staff photo/Greg Vine

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 9/22/2021 2:54:54 PM
Modified: 9/22/2021 2:54:57 PM

ROYALSTON — Public Works Director Keith Newton spoke with Royalston’s Selectboard at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 7, and provided an update on several building projects he hopes will be completed before cold weather sets in.

One of those projects is aimed at repairing the back wall of the town’s public safety building, which houses the police and fire departments, as well as replacing a portion of the structure’s roof. Board member Chris Long, who also sits on the town’s Building Committee, told Newton she knew of the problems with the wall but was unaware that anything needed to be done to the roof.

“That was the general consensus of multiple people in the building industry that I spoke with,” said Newton. “This thing has been taking water on for quite some time. It was not noticed because it didn’t break through, but it caused significant damage. So, you have the back walls that have been compromised, but you also have a section (of the roof) where a lot has been happening.”

Newton said, when asked by contractors if he wanted to patch the roof, said, “I don’t want to patch anymore, I want to correct the issue. Every one of them came back and said, ‘If you’re going to try to take care of (the) issue, you’re going to have replace that point, you can’t patch it in.’

“Again, we’re selecting one side, and that’s the rear of the building. It represents a sizeable piece of money, but I don’t believe we can get the best results if we piecemeal something into that.”

Bids for the work were due to be opened on Wednesday, Sept. 22. Funds to pay for the work will be taken from the $75,000 the town got for the sale of a generator that had originally been installed at the Royalston Community School but was no longer needed.

In response to a question from board member Chris Long, DPW Administrative Assistant Michelle Deline said no specific amount of cash has been set aside for the project.

“We put in a request for an amount,” said Deline, “and the Finance Committee came back and said the money could be taken out of that $75,000. I don’t think it was voted on at Town Meeting because it never went that far because the Finance Committee said we didn’t need to.”

The Public Safety Building was built in 1975, according to Newton, and occupied by police and fire in 1976.

Whitney Hall

The roof at Whitney Hall is also slated for some repair work. Newton, who described himself as “discouraged,” was disappointed to receive only one bid to undertake the work.

Newton explained that, while the estimated cost of repairs was set at around $15,000, the town’s insurance company had initially said it would reimburse the town just over $10,300.

“It took a little bit of convincing,” he said, “but I had this representative from our insurance make the very generous offer to pay the full amount. All we have to do is send the invoice in to him when the work is complete.”

Newton explained the roof was damaged in “a pretty violent” windstorm on Aug. 4 of last year.

“We started noticing shingles falling off pretty regularly at a pretty alarming rate,” he explained.

Work includes the removal of all asphalt shingles, application of ice and water shields, installation of eves, a new drip edge, and replacement of shingles.

“We’re looking at the south side of Whitney Hall,” said Newton. “The north side of the building has virtually no damage to it. The prevailing winds come from southwesterly in that valley and it did a lot of damage to the building. So, we only need to do that one side.”

The work will be done by Richard Fairman Builders of Orange.

Town Hall

Finally, Newton said some work on Town Hall, including repair and waterproofing of a damaged sill and a portion of the floor, and — as a separate project — repair and replacement of missing trim, and replacement of the wooden exterior kitchen door. Stephen Chase Contracting of Athol submitted bids for both projects totaling $6,500. Because neither of the two projects topped the $5,000 mark, it wasn’t necessary to put the work out to bid.

The board voted unanimously to approve the contract with Chase.

Hearse houses

Repairs are also slated for a pair of hearse houses located at Riverside and Center cemeteries, respectively.

“We’ve been looking to get those refurbished and structurally improved for a while,” said board Chair Deb D’Amico.

The town has set aside $15,000 for the work, which will also be done by Chase Contracting.

Greg Vine can be reached at

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