In early September, I drafted a BMH Alternative that could result in preservation of Brewster Hall with town offices, but spare the taxpayers from the cost of the historic preservation part. I sent it to the members of the Board of Selectmen as well as the newspaper editor and a few other interested people. There was no interest expressed by any of the Selectmen.
The editor of the newspaper thought it was a reasonable idea and asked if he could run it in the Op-Ed column that week. I agreed. I received many favorable comments on the approach, although it did elicit a negative response from at least one member of the Board of Selectmen. Since then, I’ve done more research to flesh out the details.
The basic idea is to have the Friends of Town Hall and others interested in the historic preservation of the building raise funds and do the exterior restoration or rehabilitation. Then, the town would follow up by finishing the interior that would be used for offices and meeting spaces. All of the provisions of the plan can be passed with a simple majority.
The building would continue to be owned by the town, but those interested in the restoration would be given control over the finances and extent of repairs through an Expendable Trust established by referendum, with a Governing Board designated to operate the trust. The details would be negotiated by the interested parties prior to establishment of the trust.
It is also not inconceivable that the town could contribute annual amounts to the trust to facilitate completion of the exterior work.
I can’t think of any reason that this plan would not be acceptable to the Friends of Town Hall except that it would take a few years to raise the money and get the work done. I guess they find it easier to use their political clout to try to compel 40% of the population to pay for it rather than do the fundraising that would be necessary under this plan.