Engineers find Belmont Mill to be, overall, in pretty good shape

BELMONT — The overall condition of the historic Belmont Mill, with the exception of the fourth floor is "not that bad" said town Building Inspector Steve Paquin at Monday's selectman's meeting.
Paquin, who was joined by two engineers from the H.L. Turner Group that was hired to do a complete structural analysis of the building, said the majority of the structural work involves shoring up the fourth floor supports and removing and replacing the floor and sub-floor at the same level.
"(Overall) It's a lot better than we anticipated," Paquin said.
Representatives from H.L Turner said the approximate cost of the project would be about $200,000 but because it has yet to go out to a formal bid, the actual costs are not known. The other arm of the project is an evaluation of the HVAC system and the Turner group engineer is expected to join the board in two weeks to a month for that portion.
Preliminarily, Paquin said two of the three air circulation units appeared to be shut off with the unit on the ground floor for the day care center and the senior center paddle locked.
"It's a mystery," said Paquin who told the board he has no idea why the on-off switch is blocked.
Paquin also said the third floor doctor's office installed its own upgraded air handling system and it works very efficiently.
Selectman Ruth Mooney said she was concerned about fixing the structural portions without addressing the air handling system first. She also wanted to know if a separate system for each floor is preferable to one complete system.
Paquin said that the HVAC specialist would have his report done within the month and he would be the best person to address that.
When asked if the doctor's office could remain open during the fourth floor construction, Paquin said it would be loud but he was fairly sure they could work on one half of the fourth floor at a time and try and accommodate the medical office.
Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said the town has $150,000 in emergency money available to it but the money must be encumbered by the end of this year.
As to some minor pointing needs on the outside of the brick building and some netting around the basement to keep out animals, she said the building maintenance fund could be used for that.
News that the fourth floor could be structurally compromised surfaced last summer when the Lakes Region Community College Culinary Arts Program director met with the board about reinstalling a carpet in the Food For Thought Cafe that the program ran on the fourth floor.
He also mentioned a "soft spot" in the dining room and Paquin's initial evaluation indicated that some of the flooring work that should have been completed during the 1997 renovation may not have been done.
The Culinary Arts Program moved to the the Huot Technical Center in Laconia and to Concord High School for this school year and the fourth floor was vacated.