Guest Commentary

This was posted for Kathy in the comments section of another post.  I think it deserves to be front and center for awhile.  While on the subject, let’s make the theme of this week of run-up to the election guest commentary week. Please take a minute and add a comment to this post with your two-cents, then send your friends a link to this post so they can do the same.

From: Kathy Giebutowski

Subject: I am sending this to the Grunter today.

Yesterday, we received a letter from the Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall. The letter asks that we continue to vote to spend more money for the vision of this group of folks.

First of all, they should really be called the Friends of Brewster Hall, not the Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall. In my mind these two issues should be separate. The idea of preserving/repairing a historic building in the center of town has justification. Stubborn insistence by this group and the Board of Selectmen that this remain the Town Hall does not make sense to me. The fact that these two groups are not able to separate their jobs/missions troubles me.

As I see it, the job of the Board of Selectmen is to make the best decisions for the expenditure of taxpayer dollars not only today but for any purchase that has an impact on the future expenses of the town. In my mind, that means buying the most up to date energy efficient building with easy access for the aging population of this town. Many individuals have said that a municipal complex with easy access to many town services makes the most sense and would get us the most bang for the buck.

The “Friends of Brewster Hall” should have been exploring any and all options to preserve the building. Instead they have spent many years pursuing one course of action. During this time, to my knowledge, they have not found any major donors, either private or corporate, to support their efforts. That seems to have left them with only one choice, keep trying to get the taxpayers to buy into their plan.

If their real objective is to preserve the building, then they should stop stubbornly holding to only one solution. Ask the Board of Selectmen to put the building up for sale. Then we will know if there is really any group out there interested in doing a Historic Renovation of the building. Because the building is on the Register of Historic Properties, renovation guidelines would be in place and there is a good chance everyone would end up with a better solution than having the town muddle through this piece by piece.

Please join me in voting against Article 19 until all options have been explored.

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4 Responses to Guest Commentary

  1. Tom Bickford says:

    That letter really captures it all in a nutshell.

  2. John Linville says:

    I agree Tom. I am glad Kathy spoke out and I am appreciative that Bob has provided this forum with tools to make comments and stimulate discussions. Having attempted to do something like this a couple of years ago, I know it takes time to get it right. But as we come up to March 13, the joker in the deck is involvement. There is a core of people who do know what is going on, have listened to both sides of the arguments and will vote with knowledge and conviction. But too many people wander into All Saints and examine the questions for the first time. One wonders what the truly senior part of the population will do this time without the old Taxpayers Assn cheat sheet you used to see them clutching as they pulled the curtain? Like the old country axiom, act in haste and repent at leisure, many may rue decisions made in latter years when the bill comes due.
    Truly Kathy has hit the crux of the issue. Sentimentality and love of history have their place in our society, but not to the exclusion of common sense. In the case of Brewster Hall, we can have our cake and eat it too. There are ways to maintian the building “as a town symbol” the preservationists want and yet also have an energy efficient combined public facility for the future so taxpayers can actually afford to maintain the structure. A month ago I paid $4.09 a gallon for K-1 heating fuel. What do you suppose that cost will rise to, say 20 years from now? The new combined Wolfeboro complex should incorporate all the green technology available yet could be designed to look like a proper New England building. We have the location, right on South Main, now we just have to have the leadership and will to do the right thing, two items scarce in our town.


    I am Candy Thayer (569-9215), a member of the Wolfeboro Public Library Board of Trustees and the current chair of the Building Committee. Ethan Hipple gave me your contact information.

    In 2010, the Building Committee did a feasibility study with an architectural firm which explored the best usage of the current library lot and the adjacent lot we acquired a few years ago, identified the components we wanted in a 21st century library and created a conceptual design. Our goal is to begin building in 2016.

    During the feasibility study process, we held two public meetings to update the electorate and to receive their input. The conceptual design process is relatively inexpensive (<$30,000) and is very flexible. As we have not committed to architectural drawings, it is easy to incorporate changes which may be dictated by emerging technologies, usage patterns and the ever evolving needs and focus of the Town. Our current plan is to commission architectural drawings in 2013, but I feel we can delay that by as much as a year and still get a shovel in the ground (if the electorate approves the project) in 2016.

    During the conceptual design process, we included what we thought was a lot of multipurpose community space:

    a meeting room with kitchenette and storage for 125 people
    2 small meeting rooms housing 4-6 and 8-10 respectively that could be used for small meetings, tutoring, chess games, etc.
    a local history room that would hold 20-25 people
    a cafe area for drinks, snacks, and conversation
    One of our limitations with the current library building is we only have the one meeting room which holds 70-80. While we would love to host scouting troops, chess groups, bridge groups, quilters and other organized and organizational activities, we do not have the space or the flexibility.

    During the feasibility study, the Library Staff told the Building Committee that the Library was being used in new and different ways and they wanted time to study these emerging changes. As the conceptual design process is so flexible, the Building Committee completed the study with the architect while the Library Staff developed new statistical and anecdotal measures. Analysis shows that we need to add more multipurpose community space.

    An emerging trend in libraries and community centers is the Library/Community Center – especially when construction is involved. What we (myself, Library Board Chair John Sandeen and Library Director Cindy Scott) would like to gain from discussion with the Seniors groups is an image of your programming, needs and goals. We would like to explore the spaces you need for Senior activities. Ethan has told us that he has other Town spaces for recreational/sporting activities, but would like programming space for the age 20-50 demographic.

    It seems to me that the Library, Parks and Rec and the Senior groups have similar space needs for their programming. We would like to explore a potential collaborative project. We do not feel the Town will (or even should) build a separate library, separate community center and a separate senior center. Our three areas have strong potential for creating multipurpose community space. We also believe that having much of the programming of our areas in one location will lead to the townspeople taking advantage of and participating in a variety of activities and thereby creating a richer, more stimulating town life.

    We would like to hold an exploratory meeting at the Library on Friday, March 9th at either 10 am or 2 pm. It would be no more than 2 hours and probably only an hour. Ethan, who will also be attending the meeting, tells me the Senior Citizens Group has a new president, but did not know the name. I would appreciate it if you would forward this to that individual. I also left a message on the recorder of the phone number listed in the directory. Please let me know if you can make either time.

    Thanks for your attention to this very long email. I felt the back story was important.

    Candy Thayer.


  4. wolfeblog says:

    Yea Tom, maybe it would be better if you posted a link to your blog and laid out your case there. That way, you can moderate any comments and respond if anybody wants more information. Good luck.

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