Swansea voters to consider moving town offices into old Swansea Mall

SWANSEA — Town leaders are hoping to spend $5.1 million to buy space at the Swansea

SWANSEA — Town leaders are hoping to spend $5.1 million to buy space at the Swansea Mall and relocate town offices there, with a Town Meeting vote on the issue planned for early November.

“We can’t fit into (Town Hall anymore. We’re bursting at the seams,” said Town Administrator Mallory Aronstein, speaking at an August meeting of the Town Hall Building Committee.

Town officials say the current Town Hall is too small, with no mail room, a serious lack of meeting space and no private space for potentially personal conversations, including for the town nurse and veterans’ agent. Aronstein said it’s even difficult to bring people in for interviews because of lack of space, and some town hall workers have left and listed the state of the office space as one reason for their departure.

“We’re growing. We’re trying to add people… it’s just not working out. We don’t have enough space to do that,” she said.

Expensive “Band-Aid” repairs like abatement for hazardous materials including asbestos and lead, compromised foundations and leaky roofs on the aging buildings that include town hall offices are piling up. Just to bring the Annex alone up to code could cost between $2 and $2.4 million, Aronstein said.

Back in 2019:Swansea Town Hall’s 129-year-old roof needs to be replaced

“I could see visibly all the places in which light was coming through the foundation (during a recent trip to the Annex’s basement,” she said.

A wall and ceiling severely damaged by leaking water in Swansea's Town Hall Annex.

The move would consolidate town services currently spread over three buildings —Town Hall, the Town Hall Annex building on Stevens Road and the current Council on Aging building on Ocean Grove Avenue — into one location, cutting down on overhead costs and allowing residents who have business with town offices do what Aronstein called “one stop shopping.” The plan includes selling two town properties — the Town Hall Annex and the Council on Aging building — and combining all those offices into one space.