It was 1962 when the Suffield Town Offices abandoned the old Town Hall and moved into the beautiful new “Suffield Civic Center,” as it was called, with a post office and fire station next door, in complementary architecture.
But the town grew and its administrative needs grew even faster as state and federal demands proliferated. In 1989 the Police Department relocated from the ground level of the Town Hall to a fine, new facility a mile down Mountain Road, and some departments moved to rental quarters as the years went by, even with a modest, one-story addition added to the Town Hall’s south side when the elevator was installed.
In the 1990s, the land use departments moved to empty commercial offices on Ffyler Place, and in 2006 Public Works, Planning and Zoning, and Engineering moved to new rented space at 230 Mountain Road. That year a study of the Town Hall identified the need for extensive renovation and upgrading of the electrical and HVAC systems.
In 2015 a Town Meeting approved bonding for $5.1 million for the needed work, including a small addition on the west end of the building, but new First Selectman Melissa Mack, elected in November 2015, soon realized that more was needed and called for a new study and a new plan.
EDM Architecture, of Pittsfield, Mass. and Farmington, has been working with the Permanent Building Commission and the Public Works Department and have proposed several drafts of conceptual plans for an expanded Town Hall accommodating most of the departments – essentially everyone but Parks & Rec. The present plan, now being reviewed for publishing in a request for proposals, calls for replacing the present ground floor meeting room and adjacent offices with a more substantial southern expansion of the ground floor, a somewhat smaller addition to the first floor, and a new stair tower where the present emergency generator sits.
All the land use departments would occupy the new ground floor expansion, with a long, shared counter welcoming visitors to the Building Inspector, Planning & Zoning, and Public Works departments. The Town Clerk, the records vault and the Registrar would occupy the smaller expansion of the first floor. A large meeting room (accommodating 73) would use the entire west end of the first floor, with the Assessor and Tax Collector in somewhat expanded spaces where they are now. The Selectman’s Office on the old second floor is unmoved, with the remainder of that floor accommodating Finance, Economic Development and Human Resources, along with two conference rooms.
There was also a study made of a contracting system previously unused by Suffield: the Construction Manager at Risk system, in which the contractor takes on any unanticipated contingency costs. New estimates have shown costs considerably exceeding what was authorized by the 2015 Town Meeting. This is clearly a work in progress.