For the fifth straight week, we’re being subjected tobbb a pro Brewster Hall editorial. The editor is pulling out all the stops and just pummeling everyone that offers a negative point about the place.
Use of this Bully Pulpit is his prerogative as editor, but it’s sad to see the complete abandon of journalistic standards in favor of boosting the cause.
For the record, I don’t think that the main controversy is about Brewster Hall being unsafe or unhealthy. If it wasn’t a dump we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all. The real issue is how the town addresses the need for reasonable and adequate town offices.
But back to journalistic standards. A few weeks ago we were lectured by the editor about the reckless use of facts. How about this:
Battery-backed emergency lighting and lighted exit signs have also been added.
I don’t see any exit signs here, but then again I took this a few days ago. So I went back down there this morning and took another look. None – nada, none in the annex, none in the town clerks office, none in the tax-collector’s. In the courtroom here, there isn’t even a faded old paper sign stapled to the bottom the door as in a few other places.
How important are they anyway? Since they are ubiquitous, we don’t notice them, or their absence. But fill a room up with smoke and that’s the first thing you would look for, not just those unfamiliar with the building, like the thousands of citizens that Sarah Silk says go there every week, but even employees who might become disoriented in a smoke filled room.
I would think that the editor, before making safety a headline issue, would at least take a few minutes to check some basic facts.
The editor also makes a lot of irresponsible and unfounded statements about mold, and I’ll get to that in another post.
Hey the Grunter is a microcosm of politics in the US. Its all about the money, not standards or principles. The Editor has sold out to the side of the BOS and the C of C, because he needs to protect his advertising base. Never let the facts (good one with the exit signs) get in the way of writing an editorial. And perish the thought about investigative reporting regarding where that money from the last warrant was spent.
But the sad case is that only a hundred or so folks really give a damn and pay attention. The rest wander into the polls without a clue (one wonders what they will do without the Taxpayer’s Assn cheat sheet this year) and vote by instinct on polling day. If anyone were to rationally look at the facts you keep listing, look at where fossil fuel prices are going year after year, they would know the real answer is a 21st century building on the same lot as the library, combined with police and fire facilities and built to green energy efficient standards (for example the TD Bank in Epping). But that would require the preservationists to give up their Architectural Digest daydreams and think about long term sustainability.
To The Editor (this letter was refused by Grunter!!!!!)
ARTICLE #19 BMH PLACES APPEARANCE OVER SAFETY
The judgement decision of Town official to ask voters to spend $200,000 based on “fixes, appearance and comfort” regarding Brewster Memorial Hall verses addressing fire codes first, flies in the face of the 2004 Turner Engineers report. The report states “the building is well beyond the repair and maintenance state and is long over due for complete renovation”. It also states that “Continued use of a non-conforming building is only permitted when the authority having jurisdiction approves. The life safety code and fire safety violations in this building are sufficiently serious that no official, in good conscience would approve continued use.”
There is a long history of such reporting , the 1990 HTA, 1998 AG, 2004 Turner and recent 2008 M/K Architects reports along with the 1997 State Fire Marshal’s letter all state in some form or another that space usage, code compliance, and personnel issues should all be addressed, however I wish to bring your attention to the electrical safety deficiencies.
The 12/18/00 preliminary study signed by the then Building Inspector Mr .Hammer and current Lt Thomas Zotti state NFPA 70 – There are 4 service drops and 6 meters for the building. This is a code violation and safety hazard in the event of a fire. There are multiple electrical panels difficult to identify source of each circuit, also many hanging wires and discontinued wires. The 2004 Turner report states, electrical system shows 3 electric service entrance but still numerous meters and sub-panels marked and unmarked. From a code/safety standpoint there should only be one entrance. Wiring old knob and tube type, BX and some of the work is sub-par such as Romex being held in place by wrapping abandoned electrical wiring around it. The majority of the wiring is non-metallic-generally not permitted in a building of this classification. Report suggest complete rewiring of building. Note: “Both Mr Hammer and Deputy Chief Zotti expressed serious concern for the current building configuration and use. Both cited problems enforcing codes in town when the Town Hall does not comply.”
Contrary to Mr Beeler reporting that the town has over the last two years made numerous improvements to address specific concerns of the Fire Department…the electrical is one area that has not been improved in this time period and is still in violation of Fire Safety State Codes, and while Mr Owen and Mr Beeler stated to the effect that some State building codes just can not be accomplished in a building of such age is understood, State Fire Safety Codes do not get a free pass. Fire safety/electrical codes have been a wink and a nod for years, even when leasing the building the interior was the towns responsibility. Simply put, this building is not electrical/safety code compliant and has not gotten a waiver or is grandfarthered.
I bring this to the voters attention, as I asked Mr Owen at the Deliberative session specifically would the $200,000 warrant article address the electrical service entrance and new wiring for the building . He honestly replied , no.
Reject Warrant Article #19 $200,000 Brewster Memorial Hall and send the message to the Board of Selectmen, that this maintenance fix is in poor conscience. $19,000 for a fire alarm out of the $200,000 is not addressing or resolves the fire hazards that exist of the electrical problems in the building to fully protect not only the building but the safety of the employees. Instead the Board has chosen from a menu that calls for in part appearance and comfort with windows at $71,000, architectural/engineering assistance for what at $22,000 and carpet at $27,000 to take priority over electrical problems. How can the town hook up the new proposed commercial dehumidifcation system and fire alarm in the basement with the current non compliant electrical system? You could not.
Ask yourself why the electrical is not being addressed first. Could it be that in the context of remodeling the entire building the cost is project at upward of $300,000 or is it that instead in the judgement of the Board, they opted to ask voters for $300,000 for a parking lot, and oh by the way the CIP request for road maintenance for 2011 and 2012 has been at $750,000 yet this year the BOS reduced it to $550,000, whoops there is the $200,000 for BMH and still have a warrant article for the parking lot. Just borrow from Peter to pay Paul.
Article #19 before the voters can be equated to, if this was your house and you had to make a judgement decision weather to purchase new carpet and vinyl clad replacement windows etc for $200,000 vs replacing completely dangerous electrical wiring system for up to $300,000 or a $300,000 parking lot, which would you judge to be the most important?
Town Officials have in their judgement chosen not to address this electrical/fire/safety code issue first, but the good news is that you get to be the final judge..The Board having lost site of an objective (and if they have one have not laid it out) have just redoubled their efforts to get something passed by simple majority.
Please vote No on Article #19 March 6, 2012 and send it back to the Board to reconsider their proposal which makes no significant gain regarding electrical fire/life safety code deficiencies and seriously review all other options yet to be explored. Ask your self if this is the best value for your tax dollars when voting.
If Tom Beeler refuses to publish letters like this, how does the voting public ever get to know the facts???? The first thing to do to destroy a democracly is to control the media so that the voters become ignorant of the truth. Not that our selectmen control the media, They have managed to convince Beeler that they have the only answer and he has decided to forget the truth and enjoy the power of the bully pulpit. So much for professional journalism..