The former Cousens School in Lyman, as seen Tuesday afternoon.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

The former Cousens School in Lyman, as seen Tuesday afternoon.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

LYMAN — Residents will be asked in November whether to approve a higher price tag of $1.8 million to renovate the former Cousens School, with the intent of using the building for town offices.

The former Cousens School, at 282 Goodwins Mill Road, was built in 1937, with an addition built in 1965.

The 10,000-square-foot building was last used as a school in 2007, and was acquired by the town in 2008.

Since then, improvements have been made, and though the building remains vacant, the town continues to spend money on heating the building and general upkeep.

In November 2016, residents voted to allow the town to fund $1.14 million by borrowing about $890,000 and using $250,000 of reserve funds to renovate the former school building for use as a town hall and community space.

A missing financial statement required by law for the first vote generated a revote at a town meeting in February, where once again, the vote was to approve the funding.

Since then, the town has spent $42,000 on preliminary studies, according to Select Board Clerk Nancy Brandt.

After a study done by architectural firm Harriman and Associates, it became apparent the project couldn’t be completed with $1.14 million, said Select Board Chairman Jeffrey Demers said at a public hearing Monday night.

On the Nov. 7 ballot, residents will be asked whether to allow the town to appropriate a total of $1.817 million by borrowing about $1.6 million and using $208,000 in unassigned reserve funds.

The previous estimate was made by a town committee charged with studying the renovation of the Cousens School building.

Demers said the town should have gotten the professional estimate before asking people for money.

“Did the cart get before the horse, probably so,” he said.

Demers said the town has remedied its mistake by not beginning any work before receiving the estimate.

He said the board didn’t want to get three quarters of the way through the project and realize there wasn’t enough money, as that would not be fair to residents.

Additional costs include increasing insulation, boiler system improvements, septic system work, an elevator and creating complaint entranceways.

Selectman John Houy said he thought the board had done its homework with Harriman Associates.

“Put faith in the professionals,” he said.

Demers said if the new estimate does not get approved in November, the project to renovate the former school will not move forward.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]

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