I’ve been thinking about the amendment that was made to the referendum question for the March ballot. I still have no problem with it, it’s just that I see it as superfluous. I guess it offers a little insight into the thinking of the proponents.
To my way of thinking, the first question, do you support restoration for use as town offices, is the whole ball game. If people say yes in a substantial way, the Board of Selectmen as constituted for the foreseeable future will run with that as a mandate to go for another big bond issue, and I don’t necessarily disagree with that. I doubt that there will be any talk of significant private funding, regardless of the way question d is presented or answered.
The remaining four questions are there in the event that the voters say no to the first question. Questions b and c are to help with the town office situation: Do you want to build new or lease? Questions d and e are to help with the BMH situation: Do you want to try to do a privately funded restoration or sell it?
The idea that there would be a no vote to restoration but a desire to do a public/private effort just doesn’t seem realistic. Over the past five years we’ve been teased with this private money over and over, but there have been no grants or private donations made to the cause. The declared $47,000 value of the Friends’ $4 million plan is questionable. The vast majority of the plans accepted were the original publicly financed $6.8 million restoration plans with the new architects name substituted. Besides, at just about 1% of the total cost of the job, it’s not a significant factor.
The idea that being able to specify public/private funding will encourage more people to favor restoration as town offices, to my reasoning, is absurd.