Cut to the chase

All of these arguments about health and safety are just a distraction from the big question:  Do you want to restore Brewster Hall for use as Town Offices? [or build a new town office]

Both sides have argued the overwhelming deficiencies of the old worn out building.  It’s not about whether the place is safe or healthy, we’re one accident or case of mesothelioma away from  resolving that.  I hope it never happens, but we all know that everything is great until it’s not.  The place is completely run down and needs major work to be viable for even ten years, let alone 100.

The cost to fix Brewster Hall is a matter of public record.  It’s a reasonable price to refurbish a 120 year old neglected building, and if that’s what you think the town should be spending money on, go for it.

On the other hand, there’s a credible estimate for what it would cost to build new Town Offices half a block from Brewster Hall and you can make your own assessment of the relative cost to heat and maintain a new building.

Spending $200,000 this year is less than 5% of the ultimate impact of any final decision, so it really isn’t what this is all about.  This is about whether we embrace the 19th century or the 21st century.  Good and thoughtful people disagree about it and the real question is whether either side is sufficient to justify committing our tax dollars to a course of action.

Article 30 is set of non-binding questions that will, for better or for worse, indicate what the voter support is for either eventual course of action.

There’s an old saying that “Decisions are made by those who show up”.  This could be the most important election yet in determining how we move forward with solving the big challenges that face the town:  Library, Sewage Treatment, Public Safety, Public Works – all are looming capital projects that will have major impact on the indebtedness and operational costs of the town for the next few decades.

The cycle of Board of Selectmen driven proposals being turned down by voters can be improved by using this referendum technique.  I hope you all participate and encourage others to do the same.

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One Response to Cut to the chase

  1. Walter Spellman says:

    Bob,
    As you know I have always advocated putting the brakes on this initiative until a reasonable effort was made to consider, not mandate, folding town offices into a 21st century municipal complex including all public safety needs (police & fire), town offices, suitable meeting space, and maybe including the public library needs as well. The price tag would be more than the sum supported by the FBMH group, but considering some private money for the library portion, maybe some grant money for the public safety component, the sale to a private developer of BMH, and the considerable fifty year savings-over-life-cycle for a singular, energy-efficient, code-compliant facility I think the voters would give it serious thought. I am just disappointed that the people who sit at the head of town government don’t have the vision to at least explore the option.

    I can assure you all of our friends whom we have met since we became permanent residents and who have relocated here from other states did not move here because of BMH.

    Thanks for keeping us up to date.

    Walter Spellman

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