The Recorder – Colrain, Shelburne pool funds for building demolition

Published: 1/11/2023 12:04:11 PM

Modified: 1/11/2023 12:03:15 PM

Colrain and Shelburne joined forces to contract a company to tear down three abandoned houses and a small barn close to the town line.

Nine contractors attended the initial bid meeting that included an on-site inspection, according to Shelburne Selectboard member Robert Manners. Colrain Town Administrator Kevin Fox said the towns paid the lowest bidder, Westminster’s Bourgeois Wrecking & Excavation, roughly $120,000 to demolish the four structures.

Shelburne paid about $70,000 from its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to demolish three structures at 375 and 379 Main St. (in addition to two houses, one address also included a barn) and Colrain paid about $50,000 from its general fund to demolish one structure at 102 Main Road. The demolition of all buildings was completed on Jan. 5.

In the past few months, Shelburne took two houses and a small barn for back taxes near the border with Colrain on Route 112. The houses have been abandoned for about 10 years, according to Manners.

“These buildings are totally uninhabitable,” he said.

The houses, which contained asbestos, created a liability concern for the town.

“The most logical thing to do is tear them down,” Manners said.

Up the road in Colrain, neighbors of 102 Main Road registered a complaint with the housing inspector, who ordered the building to be condemned. There was a hole in the roof, and Fox thinks the building had been abandoned for at least 10 years, but it could be longer. The building in question was then brought to housing court where demolition was ordered.

Five abandoned vehicles were also on the property in Colrain. These vehicles were sold through an online auction, and have since been removed from the property. The town retained the $8,805 from the sale of the vehicles.

Colrain and Shelburne worked with the same asbestos company when originally dealing with the abandoned buildings and joined forces again to organize the demolition projects.

“We thought it would be a more attractive bid opportunity” if the two towns worked together, Manners said.

Shelburne Selectboard Chair Andrew Baker said he hopes to work with Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity to construct affordable housing on the now-empty properties in Shelburne. At the Jan. 4 Selectboard meeting, members discussed issues relating to development on the nonconforming lots.

As for Colrain, the town does not own the 102 Main Road property, so a lien, set at the price of demolition, was placed on the land that will have to be paid if the property changes hands.

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or

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