Who do you trust?

You may recall that awhile back I proposed that the town establish a trust to oversee the preservation of Brewster Hall. At the core of that idea was the notion that it would be a way that dedicated supporters could raise private funds and preserve the building.

I didn’t come up with it. The idea comes from the Castle Preservation Society, a non-profit that was spun off from the Lakes Region Conservation Trust to take stewardship of the Castle in the Clouds. They realized that historic preservation isn’t one of the things that LRCT should be doing. The CPS has long term plan involving targeted fund raising on a per-project basis that seems to be working.

Last Thursday I listened to a Selectman diss the trust idea as she went down the list of alternatives that she had ruled out. She gave it short shrift by pointing out that the Brewster Trust had not performed well, and then went on to tell us about another trust that lost the money that was supposed to go for Wolfeboro kids’ tuition. Nice touch.

That’s what passes for careful consideration. Trusts are evil.

Take a look at last year’s town report. Between the School District and the Town, we have over $2 million in six expendable trusts (that’s what the Brewster Hall Preservation Trust would be). The town assessment database lists 500 properties in trust, including her’s.

It has nothing to do with the integrity of trusts, and she knows it.

It’s about public vs private stewardship.  It’s about whether the town should be in the historic preservation business.  Stewardship and fund raising is a lot harder than telling other people that it’s their civic duty to restore an old building. But that’s the question. Do they feel strongly enough about this to raise the money and oversee the work, or do they find it more expedient to pass the bill on to people who don’t share their passion?

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