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Weston Weighs Lachat Options

Weston's Board of Selectmen heard public comment on the Lachat home at the March 31 meeting.

The deterioration and potential liability of the Lachat residence located on Godfrey Road West was the subject of public comment and Board member discussion at the Selectmen meeting held on March 31 at .

Residents were permitted three minutes each to share their views with the Board, who indicated that a decision regarding the property should be reached by the end of the second quarter.

Margaret Wittenberg noted, "whatever happens to the house should be connected to the plan for the property."

First Selectman Gayle Weinstein agreed.

"We won't make a decision until we know the town plan," she said.

The plan for the Lachat property has been debated for years, and originally called for the home's renovation along with the installation of walking trails for public use.

However, the home was not adequately maintained by the town since the purchase, and its condition has deteriorated to the point that a restoration would be prohibitively expensive. In 2005, the estimated cost to make the home "livable or workable" was $649,495.

There is approximately $73,000 currently available in a Lachat trust. 

Ideas ranged from returning the property to its original use as a farm to offering a renovated home gratis to a town employee.

Several attendees urged salvaging elements of the home, which includes a rare chestnut frame, for usage elsewhere. 

Mark Harper, who played a key role in the Lachat purchase deal, said "I'd like to see the stone preserved," along with the wood beams and flooring.

Another well-received suggestion was to catalogue and disassemble the home, and possibly reassemble it elsewhere in town. The cost to catalogue and disassemble was estimated at $25,000.

Overall, most in attendance, including the selectmen, seemed resigned to the fact that the home would not be able to be renovated in its current location. 

Selectman Dan Gilbert noted that Lachat himself knew the home was in disrepair, and that Lachat "didn't care about what happened to the house," which Gilbert felt relieved the town of any "moral obligation" to renovate it.

"Absent [of disassembling and rebuilding] that, I think it has to come down," he said, noting that the cost of renovating has long-term taxpayer implications.

The selectmen were in agreement that the home as it stands is a safety concern and a town liability, and that the burden of maintaining a renovated antique may be too much for taxpayers to bear.

However, Gilbert reflected, "you can't get back history."

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