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City Council looks at new uses for Hudson Town Hall

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published: January 26, 2014 12:00 AM
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Hudson -- The first floor of Town Hall, 27 E. Main St., could become home to one or more non-profit organizations.

The structure, built in 1879, has heating, water, electricity, a security system, telephone lines and contains three restrooms. The city would maintain ownership of the building and use the second floor for public meetings and limited office use.

The Architectural and Historic Board of Review would review any changes to the historic structure.

The city staff in the Town Hall moved in 2013 to the Municipal Service Building, 115 Executive Parkway, Suite 400. The building is empty but the second floor is used for meetings.

Interim City Manager Scott Schroyer made changes to the original rough draft request for proposals for leasing the Town Hall and asked Hudson City Council Jan. 21 for feedback on them. The original rough draft of RFP for not-for-profit use of Hudson Town hall was created in 2013 by former City Manager Anthony Bales.

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Schroyer, who replaced Bales, wanted to know whether the second floor should be leased, how long should the city accept proposals, should proposals be considered from one organization or multiple organizations, and what to charge for the space.

The second floor meeting room can be reserved for any public use because Town Hall is a public building, said Council President Hal DeSaussure. He said one of the problems with First & Main is a lack of bathrooms, which would be solved if the Town Hall was open for visitors.

He wanted to narrow the field of applicants.

"I'm reluctant to have a non-profit with no connection to the community," DeSaussure said.

Council member Dan Williams suggested limiting organizations to the first floor and determining a cost per square foot.

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"We should expect to get back a fair amount of the cost," said Council member William Wooldredge. "The rent should cover the cost."

Wooldredge also suggested flexible visit times for interested organizations to tour the Town Hall. He said the city should obtain information not only about the organization but about the main representatives involved in the group.

Council member David Basil supported a 60- to 90-day period for submissions by organizations and a lease amount to recover as much cost as possible.

"We welcome joint collaborative proposals," Basil said. "This is a landmark in town. Consider ways in which they can take advantage of the landmark and focus on the downtown."

The proposals need to consider shared common ground with multiple organizations, said Council member Alex Kelemen. He wanted to know which entrance would be used and any signage impacts.

The city could provide a floor plan with shared areas marked for organizations interested in leasing the space and talk with them on how to coordinate the space, Schroyer said.

He asked whether to reach out to organizations first or to ask for proposals and select from them. Proposals could give the city ideas about possible tenants, Schroyer added. He said there was no rush to fill the building.

Last year, the Fire Department proposed a museum in the back of the building, which was originally the city's fire department, but some Council members worried it would not attract many visitors.

DeSaussure said the museum could be paired with another organization, such as Destination Hudson or Chamber of Commerce, that would attract a steady flow of visitors. They could then direct them to the museum.

Schroyer said he would develop the proposal and discuss it more in the future.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Facebook: Laura Freeman, Record Publishing

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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