KENT—The Board of Selectmen will meet with the Swift House Task Force Feb. 2 to tour the building and to formulate ideas about its potential uses.
Zanne Charity, chairman of the task force, has encouraged the new Board of Selectmen to meet with her group to prioritize potential uses. This, she said, will aid architects in knowing how to design its interior spaces.
During their Jan. 11 meeting, the selectmen met briefly with architect Tim Tack of the firm Silver Petrucelli. Tack told them he had gone out to look at the building and that further input is needed before decisions can be made.
Charity and task force member Marge Smith both pointed to an ADA compliant bathroom and entry ramp as top priorities.
Smith said that the historical society began to work on a ramp during the years it occupied the building and that she now envisions a ramp being built for the west entrance.
Charity said she had an earlier rendering that shows the ramp at the front of the building, but both Tack and Smith disagreed with this placement, saying it would disfigure the historical appearance of the ancient building.
Renovations to the town-owned building will have to be taken in stages, no matter what future is eventually defined for it.
The building, considered to be one of the oldest in town and dating back to the 18th century, is not compliant with current codes. There is no handicap accessible bathrooms or entry and the second floor is inaccessible. Even persons with no mobility issues are faced with steep, non-compliant stairs.
Tack agreed with Smith that a handicap bathroom could be created by combining a first-floor cloak room with the existing lavatory. He was not sure if an ADA-compliant bathroom would be needed on the second floor, saying it depends on square footage and use.
In looking at the future of the building, Selectman and Task Force member Glenn Sanchez said the building has been owned by the town since 1972 and has been closed since before COVID. “We need to give the voters of Kent a number [for its renovation and use],” he concluded.