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Council to decide fate of School Street Barn

Date: 2/15/2013

By Carley Dangona

AGAWAM — At its regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m., the City Council will discuss and vote on two resolutions pertinent to the future of the School Street Barn.

Two months after residents were presented with the option to have the barn transformed into a multi-use facility, the council will consider resolutions to accept a grant of $100,000 from the Massachusetts Historical Commission and to use an additional $315,000 in Community Preservation Funds for the project.

According to a projected cost summary, the total estimated cost for transforming the barn into a recreational space is $814,000, which would cover all three phases of construction.

In December 2012, Deborah Dachos, director of Planning and Community Development, and William Crosskey of Crosskey Architects LLC, presented the option to residents of either completing minimal restorations to ensure the landmark remains standing, or transforming the barn into a multi-purpose building to open the barn to public use for events such as weddings and farmers' markets.

Mayor Richard Cohen said, "As a barn we need to preserve it — it's a piece of Agawam history. I don't want to see it destroyed [it needs to stabilized to ensure it lasts]."

Two councilors preferred the initial option to complete only the repairs necessary to stabilize the barn. This work would ensure the longevity of the barn and keep it as a storage shed.

Councilor Robert Magovern stated, "I feel that the barn should be preserved. It's an agriculturally historic barn that exemplifies Agawam. It's too vital not to take care of."

However, Magovern is not in favor of transforming the more than 130-year-old barn into a multi-use facility, but wants to make the needed reinforcements to enable it to remain standing for years to come.

Councilor George Bitzas, said, "I think it should stay as a barn. It's historic — it doesn't need to be added and it shouldn't be destroyed. In my opinion, as an artist, I want to see it preserved."