Upper Village Hall Meets Terms of Town Agreement

Upper Village Hall, which operates under the care and control of the East Derry Village Improvement Society (EDVIS), is in compliance with the agreement between the Society and the Town, according to Society president Paul Dionne.

Former Town Councilor Janet Fairbanks had raised questions about that compliance with the current Town Council.
In 2004, EDVIS purchased Upper Village Hall from the Town of Derry for $1, after a long and emotional struggle to save it from being torn down. Since then the committee members have worked to restore the hall and bring it up to code.
Thanks to many local volunteers, both individuals and businesses, who continue to donate materials and hundreds of hours of labor, Upper Village Hall today is in compliance with the agreement made with the Town and with the various Town codes.
The intent of the renovations and improvements has always been to bring the historic building back to its former glory and to once again make it a focal point of community activities. The building has played a prominent role in Derry’s history since 1875. In the 135 years since its official opening, it has served as a town hall, fire station, jail, grange hall, veterans’ hall, library, boys club and home to the Red Star Twirlers. It is now home to Kids Coop Theatre and the Derry Farmers Market.
But the building had fallen into disrepair and because of code shortcomings, its use had been drastically cut before it was shuttered by town officials. EDVIS took out loans to cover the cost of installing insulation, heat and air conditioning. While the loan covered the basic areas of the renovation project, the balance of the 20-year loan at 5 percent interest must be used for improvements required by the town, in order to meet the conditions of the agreement with EDVIS.
Fairbanks claimed EDVIS made particular reference to the unpainted state of the exterior. Town Councilor Brad Benson spoke up at the time of her allegations and took the blame for the fact the exterior was not painted. He said his family had volunteered to do that and for a number of reasons it hadn’t yet been done. Later, Benson’s Lumber and Hardware personnel stripped the paint from the building under Benson’s license for lead paint removal.
Benson said painting was to begin the week of Oct. 7, with Benson’s Lumber and Hardware donating the primer and the paint and Simpson’s Painting donating the labor. Painting began Monday, Oct.14.
That will not be the first donation by the Benson family and Kenny Simpson. The front portico and porch were removed, replaced, and restored entirely through the generosity of the Benson brothers, Brad, Grant and Scott.
EDVIS President Paul Dionne provided the following information regarding compliance of the building renovations and repairs:
• Within two years of signing the agreement, the exterior had be repaired; first floor plumbing, heat and electrical brought up to code; and first floor interior painted. All of these have been completed.
• Within three years, the exterior needed to be painted. This began Monday.
• Within five years, the basement had to be brought up to electrical and plumbing code and a fire alarm system and fire protection system installed. These have all been completed.
• Within 10 years, the second floor heating has to be functional and second floor electrical brought up to code. Both of these conditions have been met. What remains to be done within the 10-year period is painting the second floor interior.
Dionne said the Town Council had planned to have him attend the first Council meeting in October but the chair, Michael Fairbanks, did not contact him. When the matter was raised at that meeting, Benson gave a summary report, noting that Upper Village Hall and EDVIS were in compliance with the Town agreement.
Dionne said the council might ask him to deliver a formal report at a later date, which he said he would do.
Dionne noted that EDVIS and Upper Village Hall have agreed to sponsor the Derry Farmers Market and will slowly take over its operation in the course of the next three years. Market manager Beverly Ferrante will continue to organize and manage it this year and plans to slowly hand over organization and management to EDVIS.
Dionne also noted that plans call for installation of a catering kitchen so weddings and other events can be accommodated.
“Rentals are up significantly, and while we are not making money at this point, we are definitely holding our own,” said Dionne. “And we are in complete compliance with the agreement between EDVIS and the Town.”

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