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St. Albans Town Selectboard Chair Brendan Deso said this groundbreaking represents a milestone for the town Aug. 26.

ST. ALBANS TOWN — Over a dozen community members gathered in St. Albans Town, at the future site of the new town hall to break ground Aug. 26.

The project, approved by voters on Town Meeting Day in March, represents a milestone for the town and is the culmination of a lot of hard work by various people, town officials said at the event.

“We’re here not only to celebrate the groundbreaking on this building that we worked so hard to get approved by votes, we’re also here to celebrate everything that we’ve got going right for us,” said St. Albans Town Selectboard Chair Brendan Deso.

Deso said the hours of committee meetings and all the decisions that had to be made were all a labor of love.

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The building committee for the new town hall grabs the cermeonial shovels and tosses some dirt, representing the beginning of construction on the new building Aug. 26.

“It’s a collective memory that I will cherish for the rest of my adult life,” Deso said. “Now, let’s get this thing built and let’s keep this town marching forward and let’s take this next decade on by the horns.”

The town purchased the land across Wharf Street from the old DPW site on Georgia Shore Road for $200,000 this year after voters approved it in November of 2020, and the project is projected to take approximately eight to 10 months to complete. Plans call for a single-story, 13,000-square-foot building.

That will be much more accessible than the current town hall, town manager Carrie Johnson said, adding that it’s a symbol of forward progress on multiple levels.

Visitors with mobility issues can’t access any of the offices on the upper floor of the current building, she noted. That includes Planning and Zoning and Johnson’s office.

Having the entire staff on one floor will also be more unifying, Johnson said, adding that the town staff has outgrown the space at 579 Lake Street.

“It was built in the 1890s,” she said. “I'm sure it was state of the art then. It's no longer.”

The new building will feature increased community space for people to gather and upgraded infrastructure, with a more robust heating and cooling system. Offices in the existing building are very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer, Johnson said. At this moment, it’s over 80 degrees in the offices, Johnson said.

“It’s almost intolerable right now,” she said.

Climate control is important not only for the comfort of people who work and visit the building, but also for the town itself as more people move into virtual spaces, Johnson said.

That’s because the server that powers the town’s website is in a room in their current building with one air conditioner. If power goes out, that could cause problems, Johnson said. She noted that the town’s website is being upgraded, making more of its services available online.

Rebecca Ellis, state director for U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, spoke at the event, congratulating all who worked on the project and highlighting how important it is for town governments to invest in their community by creating the building blocks.

“I think that is what St. Albans town is doing right now, you're investing in your future, you're building those basic building blocks,” she said. “And as a result, the community will continue to thrive.”

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