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Weston Onion Barn is closed for now

Residents are being advised not to drop off cans and bottles — or anything else — at the Onion Barn in the center of town.

Due to structural issues with the barn, it is not currently being used by the Weston High School Boosters for can and bottle recycling collections (see related letter on page 4A).

Town Administrator Tom Landry said it came to his attention in December that there were structural issues with the Onion Barn’s roof, siding and support beams. After an inspection by the town’s building inspector Rack Gleason, Mr. Landry said a decision was made not to let people inside it until the building is repaired.

The Onion Barn was originally built in 1830 and was used to store Weston’s bumper crop — onions. Over the years, the Onion Barn has primarily been used as a bulletin board, with banners and signs posted about town events and activities.

For the past 15 years, the Boosters have been using it to store and collect recyclables as a fund-raiser.

Mr. Landry said the existing structure has had many repairs and replacements done to it over time. “The roof, siding and floor are not original. About six or seven years ago, the building was listing on one side, and the town did some internal cabling to pull it back into shape,” he said.

He noted that the aging structure needs “a lot of TLC.” He said the foundation is stone on stone with no mortar, and because of that, the stones have become dislodged and the structure is beginning to sag. Rain water and ground water are causing rot and are also promoting sagging.

Because of the building’s shaky condition, Mr. Landry said Mr. Gleason told him he was surprised it had survived the winter. “The barn needs more than simple cosmetic work. It needs a new roof and new siding at least,” Mr. Landry said.

He has gotten one estimate of around $20,000 for repairs. The selectmen have not made any decisions yet about the future of the Onion Barn and repairs for it were not included in the 2012-13 budget.

In addition, any work done to the Onion Barn will need the approval of the Historic District Commission because the barn is located in an historic zone, Mr. Landry said.

The Boosters have temporarily suspended their can and bottle recycling collections and will let the public know when it has made new plans.

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