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NORTHFORD - It may not look much different on the outside, but on the inside, things are changing at the former Stanley T. Williams School in Northford.
Interim Town Manager Bonnie Therrien confirmed for The Sound that building's renovation construction work began early last week, which included some interior walls coming down, as the town moves forward with plans to convert the building to North Branford's new Community Center/Senior Center.
North Branford's Board of Education offices and a district preschool will continue to operate out of the building during the renovation, in a section sealed off from construction work.
On Sept. 25, the Town Council approved a contract of no more than $462,800 with Olympus Construction of Milford for base bid work to complete Phase One of the job, hoped to begin in October. The contract between the town and Olympus Construction was finalized and signed during the week of Oct. 15.
Phase One work will add a cooling system for the gym, install flooring, and complete some carpentry to produce new fitness rooms, offices, and senior center space. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility will be added, especially for space to be used by seniors (adding ADA bathrooms and converting existing to ADA compliance). The school cafeteria will be re-purposed as multi-use programming space, with a cafeteria in use during certain hours of the day.
The converted building will make former classrooms into fitness rooms, add women's and men's locker rooms, and also become home to North Branford Parks & Recreation and North Branford Senior Center administrative office space, as well as Board of Education offices.
The building could be renovated further, with Phase Two work that's part of the overall conversion plan created for the town by the firm of Salamone & Associates, P.C., of Hamden. In order to go forward with Phase Two, the town has now applied for a $500,000 STEAP (Small Town Economic Assistance Program) grant. To pay for Phase One, North Branford has pooled a $200,000 STEAP grant received in 2010 with $293,000 of available town-bonded funds.