In early February 2008 the Town of Gray's elected Town Council charged the Community Economic Development Committee to find the most economically sound location for the Gray Town Office and Town Government Meeting Hall. The current Town Office had outgrown itself due to an ever increasing population in the town and limited space. Stimson Hall, used for years as the meeting space for town governments and various boards and committees, was an aging 3 story historic building that took an enormous amount of money to heat when compared to the space actually utilized and is in need of some additional repair. With raised costs of fuel looming in the future and an already packed full town office the Gray Town Council looked to the CEDC to investigate and research new alternatives, even start a town-wide survey of peoples' thoughts, and report back in March (see Survey Results).
The results of the survey indicated that most Citizens wanted to preserve both the Pennell Institute and Stimson Hall facilities because of their unique appearance and their historic link to the community. Several Citizens submitted sketches for suggested concept designs for the Pennell Complex and Stimson Hall. A significant number of Citizens felt the town should build new facilities for the Town Office. Other locations such as the old Rite Aid Building and the old Post Office were suggested.
The Town Council then requested that the Community Economic Development Committee completed an analysis of the top three options – building a new town office somewhere in Gray, utilizing Pennell Institute for the town office and utilizing Stimson Hall for the town office.
On September 2, 2008, the CEDC submitted the Town Office Village Concepts Report to the Town Council. The report advised that the Pennell Institute option was the most economically effective alternative. The CEDC recommended that the Town Council adopt the Pennell Institute Design Concept for the new Town Office facilities. The Council endorsed the Pennell option.
On November 4th, 2008 the Town of Gray voted to approve $2.4 million to renovate Pennell Institute to house the Town Office. The Townspeople approved this by 407 affirmative votes.
On January 6, 2009, the Town Council appointed the Town Office Building Committee to complete three tasks as its initial charge:
- Review the various construction delivery methods and submit a recommendation to the Town Council.
- Prepare a Request for Proposal for the design phase of the project to convert Pennell Institute into a building to house the Town Office facilities.
- Prepare a Request for Proposal for the construction of the Town Office facilities based upon the design developed by the selector designer.