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City officials call on public to help save School Street Barn

Date: 2/23/2010

Feb. 24, 2010.

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

AGAWAM -- The School Street Barn is an enduring testament to Agawam's rich agricultural history. Without the dedication of a few, however, the structure would have succumbed to the ferocity of time long ago.

For the past three years, members of the School Street Barn Advisory Committee and town officials have labored to keep the structure intact with repairs to windows, doors and siding. The next step is to renovate the structure for public use.

"Now the preservation efforts start in earnest," Richard Bennett, chair of the School Street Barn Advisory Committee, said. "We are now reaching out to the community to step forward and participate in what is sure to be a very rewarding project."

Bennett and others all calling for the community's help to raise the $5,000 needed to hire a restoration expert who can formulate a plan for the structure's precise refurbishment.

The City Council voted in favor of a gift account for the barn in order to keep tract of donations and grant possibilities.

"The skeleton of the barn is in really good shape," Deborah Dachos, director of Planning and Community Development, said, adding repairs to the foundation, roof and siding are necessary.

She noted the cost to restore the entire structure will be "significant."

"Ultimately, we see the barn as an integral part of our beautiful [School Street] Park," Bennett said. "It will provide space for a variety of cultural and recreational activities as recommended by the majority of respondents in a survey conducted last year."

Mayor Richard Cohen noted the historic importance of the barn. "I sincerely hope that Agawam residents take an active role in helping to preserve the barn not only due to its historic significance, but because it is a tangible reminder of Agawam's rich agricultural history," he said.

Those wishing to help with the preservation of the School Street Barn or to make a donation may contact the Department of Planning and Community Development at 786-0400 ext. 283.