TOWNSEND — The town’s plan to tear down the Legion Hall to build a new fire station in West Townsend has raised the hackles of several local people.

“I don’t think there is a single person in West Townsend opposed to a fire station,” said town resident Len Abreu. “What we’re opposed to is tearing down a historical building.”

“Which is why the fire department and building committee went to the Historical Commission,” said Chairman Colin McNabb during the Aug. 18 selectmen’s meeting.

The spring town meeting approved funding to buy and remove the Legion Hall and build a new station. The building is planned to occupy a lot comprised of the Legion land and the land where the West Townsend fire station now stands.

When the building committee met with Historical Commission in June, the commission voted to allow the Legion Hall, which is in a historic district, to be torn down for the new station.

Abreu had suggestions for preserving the building, which was built as a girl’s school in 1836. It could be moved or the new station could be built where the old one is. The station could be built on another town-owned lot.

Fire Chief Mark Boynton said the budget allows for $50,000 for asbestos abatement and demolition.

Grants might be available through the state Historical Commission, Abreu said.

If the Legion Hall is not removed, the new station would have to be the same size as the old station, Boynton said. The combined acreage is small and the building would be too close to the Legion. A committee researched locations, and a proposed location on Scales Lane was shot down at a town meeting, Boynton said.

The proposed demolition struck an emotional chord with other residents who were present as well.

Carrin Culotta spoke of her connection to the building. Although she did not grow up in the neighborhood, she and her children walk by the building frequently.

“I don’t see why we’re tearing the building down,” she said. “That building is a monument.”

Lee McTighe, who lives next door to the Legion, asked if it would be possible to preserve the large elm, one of the few remaining in Townsend.

Fire officials were noncommittal. A new septic system needs to be installed that will require space, said fire Lt. William Elliot.

Selectmen refused to step in. “The bottom line is town meeting. They’ve already spoken,” said Selectman Gordon Clark.

Town meeting has the most power in town, McNabb said. “I’m not inclined to try and overrule that.”

“I love old buildings, but must be practical,” he said.

Could residents ask for a special town meeting? Abreu asked.

It takes 200 signatures on a petition to hold a special town meeting or 100 on a petition to add an article to a scheduled town meeting, said Town Administrator Andy Sheehan.

At the request of Boynton, selectmen approved forming a committee to consider a monument commemorating the former girls’ school.

In other business:

* A special town election will be held in October or November to fill a vacancy on the Board of Selectmen. McNabb will resign effective Aug. 26 to enter the seminary. The selectmen will discuss the date at their next meeting. The election will cost $6,497, said Town Clerk Kathy Spofford.

* The clerk’s office will be reorganized after the assistant town clerk retires on Sept. 18. Spofford has posted a benefited position for assistant town clerk. When that is filled, she will look to hire a department assistant. The cost will be about the same but will make the office run better, she said.

* A review and discussion of a mandatory referral from the Zoning Board of Appeals for a special permit for a kennel to house stray animals was tabled.

* Selectmen approved a renewal of a special permit for a cell tower.

* They gave the go-ahead to hire a firm to design a sidewalk in the Harbor between South Street and the Harbor Church.

* Two executive sessions were held.

One with the Conservation Commission was held to discuss discipline or charges against an individual. Conservation Agent Leslie Gabrilska and Labor Counsel Mark Jenkins remained in the room. The selectmen met with them during their last meeting. Earlier in the summer, Jenkins conducted an investigation about a commission meeting where police were called to Memorial Hall.

The second executive session was to conduct contract negotiations with nonunion personnel.

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