Town holds open house for new municipal building

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JAY – Town employees got a chance to show off the Jay Municipal Building today, hosting an open house so residents could take a look at the new digs at 340 Main Street.

Town Manager Ruth Marden was enthused about the new facility, converted from the old Jay Family Restaurant.

“It’s very nice,” she said, standing inside the bustling lobby. “It’s very roomy, very clean, and we’re all real happy to be here.”

Municipal officials, hard at work in the new town office.

The facility serves both the municipal employees, seven people in all, as well as the base of operations for the Jay Police Department, which also has seven full-time officers in addition to reserve patrol officers, dispatchers and support staff. The town office is only a single story, unlike the former municipal center which was built in a converted school and forced some offices and work areas into the basement.

The old office was plagued with structural and access problems, as well as drainage issues that have led mold forming throughout the building. Jay residents spent several years saving money for a replacement. They approved the purchase of the old restaurant in January 2007, and architects began planning the renovation. The project would eventually total $919,000 for the purchase, consultants’ fees, retrofit and repaving of the parking lot. Residents had to authorize the transfer of $117,000 from the Undesignated Fund to the Building Reserve Account at a special town meeting conducted in December 2007, after the project proved more expensive than previously anticipated. The building committee worked hard to scale back some aspects of the design without producing an inferior product.

Officer Stephen Wilkinson works in one of the the police department’s new offices.

Everyone at the open house agreed that the hard work had certainly paid off. The new town office features brightly-lit separate offices for the town’s assessor, animal control officer, town manager, town clerk and finance department. Big windows are perhaps the most noticeable difference between the new, centrally-located office and the old, bunker-like former municipal building. Selectmen will now meet in the town office, rather than upstairs in the Niles Memorial Library.

The police department’s portion perhaps shows even a bigger improvement. The computer network, equipment storage space and the offices are all in their individual rooms. The new building features an evidence room with lockers for each officer, a family waiting room with a television and a new locker room with a shower.

Sergeant Troy Young pointed out the many improvements to the office he shares with Detective Andrew Hufnagel, especially the large window. Much of the former police station was in a basement.

“Our old office didn’t have any windows,” he said. “This is so nice.”

Selectman Warren Bryant said that he hoped that the new, more-accessible town office would be the start of a “town square” for Jay.

“It really can be the start of a town center,” he said. “It’s something we really didn’t have before.”

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