The town hall discussion tonight went pretty much as anticipated. The Town Manager backed away from the PFIC idea, and the Selectmen focused on the $2.7 million modified “First Floor with Exterior”. The modification is that the so called annex would not be finished as a meeting room suite, but rather the end would be reconfigured into four offices with small foyer for the two administrative assistants. The current meeting room (the one with the fireplace) and the code enforcement officer’s office would be turned into a meeting space.
Mr. Bowers made much of his belief that substantial money would be donated to this effort if approved. I’m sure he and a few of his friends might kick in a few thousand, but I suspect that any funds that the Friends can raise will be directed toward a second floor effort.
Ms. Murray presented a barrage of disjointed information to support her premise that there is unequivocal support for BMH, and no viable alternative.
Mr. Senecal said that he wasn’t comfortable with the estimates that are based, in large part, on allowances rather than actual sub-contractor estimates. The plan calls for repairing only half of the exterior brickwork, and as a former brick mason, he stated that the entire building was in need of repair. He cannot support the project.
Ms. Silk and Mr. Storm support the $2.7 million. No vote was taken, but the decision was clear.
Although there was no public hearing indicated in the agenda, the meeting was subsequently opened up to public comment. The comments were mostly in support of doing something to BMH. One in particular noted that last year’s $4 million initiative failed because of the opposition. We all know that there was no organized opposition and that they got a fair shot with the voters. It was unopposed on the written ballot. I think this year will be quite different. They gave it their best shot, got a fair chance to convince the voters, and failed to muster adequate support. Time to move on from the basic premise of town offices in a century old building.
I’ll have more in the way of rebuttal in the days to come. I thing Ms. Murray in particular was loose with the facts, but I’d like to review the video before responding to several of her comments that were clearly directed at me.
btw/ It was noted that the High School construction is expected to increase the tax rate by 60 cents this year.