Old Courthouse pillars need work

— The pillars on the front of the Old Courthouse need to be repaired.

Essex County Department of Public Works Superintendent Anthony LaVigne told members of the DPW Committee May 21 that the four pillars were in desperate need of work after two separate inspectors deemed them lacking.

“The ones that are in jeopardy have rotted through,” LaVigne said. “They have a timber post in the center. It is all wood. They are untreated posts that are there right now.”

LaVigne added, however, that he would still be in favor of wooden pillars, but using treated lumber.

“We have not done the design yet, but I think that we would use a treated post and put some vents in it,” he said.

LaVigne said that the county should make sure that it goes through the proper reviews for the project since the Old Courthouse was nominated for being placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We have to go to a SHIPPO review because they are nominated for historic preservation,” he said. “They are very visible so I would recommend that we go to SHIPPO review. We want to do this more as a restoration project then a replacement project.”

LaVigne said that the estimated cost for the project was, $47,347, which includes engineering and shoring up the roof while the work is being done.

“Half the cost will be to shore up the roof while the pillars are being repaired or reconstructed,” he said.

LaVigne asked for, and received, a resolution authorizing the use of contingency funds to pay for the project.

“I don't know where else we would get it and I would find it appropriate to take it out of contingency,” County Manager Daniel Palmer said.

“We have a major safety issue here and we do not want to have something happen where they fall and someone gets hurt,” Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell said.

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