Bullock Building activities are currently limited to the summer months due to the lack of a heating system. Such a system installation would be a very expensive proposition and one which could easily be out of the reach of local fundraising efforts. Because of this fact, research has gone into finding grants which could assist in the installation of a proper building-wide heating system, but in each case matching funds from local sources will be needed to secure the grants and move the project forward.
With the installation of a heating system the Bullock Building could be used year round and a variety of businesses and tenants to the building could be sought. Without a heating system the building will be impossible to rent or lease.
Readsboro’s Hometown Redevelopment Inc, a not-for-profit organization which is committed to bringing economic development to the town, currently has charge of the building. Their work through a variety of projects and events has led to the current restoration work. They will be asking for citizens’ support this year at Town Meeting for a Bullock Building tax abatement for five years. The group’s flagship project has been the preservation and rehabilitation of the largest building on main street, “The Bullock Building.” The tax abatement will be used to invest that money into the Bullock Building project which finds itself at a crucial tipping point between immediate success or a long-term lethargic struggle. The February 2 issue of The Deerfield Valley News mentioned the hope for a tax abatement by this group for the first time.
The Bullock Building, in the hands of Readsboro’s Hometown Redevelopment group for only a few years, is just now beginning to shine with fresh paint and many improvements after years of abandonment to the ravages of time. “Time and neglect” had debilitated or destroyed wall board, clapboards, paint, the heating system, and structural integrity from the foundation to supporting beams, but a great deal of these blemishes has been fixed, repaired or replaced by this small but dedicated group of volunteers. In addition, the need to raise funds to do the work has generated events and activities from auctions to musical and theatrical performances akin to Wilmington’s Memorial Hall Center for the Arts. The building has become something of a cultural center for the town to include an Artist’s Gallery and sales shop which opened in the summer of 2016. Anyone who walks on Readsboro’s wide Main Street sidewalks will immediately see that this building dominates the entire street scape as few other buildings in town do. In past centuries the building has been a store, a movie theater, a store again, host to a light manufacturing operation, and an apartment house.
The hometown redevelopment group hopes to continue to operate a portion of the building for community and cultural events while at the same time renting portions to businesses or private concerns which have yet to reveal themselves. The bottom line is that none of this can happen without a large expenditure on a heating plant, and without grants and matching funds such a heating system is unlikely to be installed. The current property taxes put the not-for-profit group in a financial hole it has to dig out of each spring before it can begin raising money for repairs.
By relieving the group’s tax burden for five years, the taxpayers will be giving the project a boost, and that same boost of money will see much of those funds spent locally for materials, labor, and contract workers while the heating plant is installed, not to mention the potential benefits of being able to see the building occupied with renters.
I for one, hope the tax-payers will support them.
Jim Dassatti, Readsboro