, Gloucester, MA

August 30, 2013

Essex Town Hall selling stuff to make way for repairs

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ESSEX — It may be a very late start, but Essex is doing some spring cleaning at Town Hall in preparation for some much needed repairs.

The town will be clearing out anything that is deemed unneeded, and selling the items to the highest bidder. An auction is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the TOHP Burnham Library, which shares the Town Hall building at 30 Martin St.

Hopeful buyers will be able to view the items and make a bid. Unlike a typical yard sale or silent auction, an envelope will be attached to each item and a prospective buyer can place a bid, but nobody will be able to view other bids on items.

The deadline for accepting offers is 2 p.m., after which Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki will read aloud the highest bid. From there, the buyer will have to show up by 3 p.m. with a check made out to the town, otherwise the item goes to the next highest bidder. Those looking to buy must show up in person by 3 p.m.

“We’re trying to dispose of any items that we no longer use,” Zubricki said, adding that primarily, furniture is being auctioned.

“The goal is to have the items sold and carried off all in the same day,” he said.

Any items not sold at the auction will be given away to anyone interested or thrown away.

In order to save money as well as manual labor, the town will be using inmates supervised by correctional officers from the Essex County Sheriff’s Department to move larger items onto the nearby lawn.

Zubricki said the prisoner program is a tremendously helpful one that the town has used before.

“It’s a very tried and tested program that they have finely tuned,” he said.

While the prices next week could be low, the total for the Town Hall repairs has a price tag of $737,000, Zubricki said. That price includes design work, construction and oversight costs.

A sum of $137,000 was allocated to the project from free cash while $600,000 will be borrowed, Zubricki said.

The Boston architectural firm Meyer and Meyer has completed the design process for the renovations of the historic Town Hall, which was built in 1893. Bids for a general contractor are due by Sept. 9, according to Selectman Lisa O’Donnell, who is chairwoman of the Building Committee.

O’Donnell said the renovations will include repairing the often flooding basement, creating a dedicated computer storage room, soundproofing some parts of the building, and adding a handicap accessible bathroom in the library.

“In a nutshell, (the repairs are) workplace improvements for the people who work there,” she said.

The front doors are due for an upgrade, too, O’Donnell pointed out. There is no way to see if someone is on the other side of the solid wooden doors, she said, which creates a safety hazard.

“One major element of the project is to dry out the basement,” Zubricki said.

The basement of the 119-year-old building has often faced flooding problems in the past. Last year, the environment was inviting enough for a toad to dwell there.

“It’s a constant water problem,” O’Donnell said.

One goal of the repairs is to create more working space and a better environment for town employees and those who frequent the building.

The new handicap friendly library bathroom is “desperately needed,” according to library director Deborah French. It will also include a changing station for small children.

O’Donnell said other problems such as rodent control, installing fire sprinklers and making the second floor handicap accessible are still on the to-do list, and there are no plans for a new town hall on the horizon.

“There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed to maintain it, but this is a start,” she said of Town Hall.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000 x 3455 or



If you go What: Town Hall auction. When: Wednesday, Sept. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Where: TOHP Burnham Library, which shares the Town Hall building at 30 Martin St. Details: Winning bids must be paid in person by 3 p.m.