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Some Milton Woman's Club members try to stave off demolition

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 27, 2013 04:31 PM

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Though plans have been under way for months to sell and demolish the decaying Milton Woman’s Club building off Reedsdale Road, some members haven't given up hope that the building can be saved.

Several Woman’s Club members showed up at a Planning Board meeting on Thursday to protest the sale of the building to a developer, asking that the town deny the developer the ability to turn the land into a spot for four homes.

Though there is a purchase-and-sale agreement to sell the one-acre of land and house to developer John Morrill, Planning Board approval is first needed.

“It may be moving on a track but we’re still not in agreement with what they are doing to sell off the clubhouse,” said Janet Christensen. “…We think there is a better civic use for the building, if it was restored or [to use] the property as a park.”

Though no money has been allocated, and the town has already passed up the opportunity to take over the building, Christensen said the town hasn’t been approached in eight years about taking the ownership over, and it might have changed their minds.

A group of members who are in the minority also said they have polled locals about the fate of the gathering spot, also used by the Milton Players since 1933, and residents too want to see it remain.

“We just feel the Woman’s Club was such an important building in town, the history, and deserves a better end than what’s happening to it,” Cristensen said.

For 88-year-old club President Anne Thompson, the demise of the structure has long been inevitable.

The group's fund-raising efforts could barely cover the $1,500 to $2,000 a month in electricity, heating, and insurance bills, not the mention other maintenance.

Insurance regulators soon started breathing down the necks of Club leadership, wanting hazardous cracks in the driveway repaired. The building also needed a new furnace, and large buckets had become the solution to multiplying holes in the roof.

Despite appeals to the town to help pay for the structure, requests went unfulfilled. According Thompson, a national historic society also said the 1927-era building wasn’t old enough to qualify as a historic building.

As for retaining the building for civic use, Thompson said there is no funding, and demolition of the building for a park space would also cost money the organization doesn’t have.

“I just feel bad that it came to this point. I thought they all would understand,” Thompson said, noting that majority of the 55 members are on board with the plan.

Plans have been made to preserve a mural inside the building, though no one has determined where it might go.

Thompson also said that the group would continue on without a permanent home, holding meetings at Milton Public Library and most likely donating funds received from the building's sale to a yet undetermined charity.

Christensen said the sale was for $625,000, though Thompson couldn’t confirm the number. The property is assessed at a little over $1 million.

Town Planner William Clark did not return calls for comment, however the board is expected to meet again on the topic on Oct. 9.

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