I guess it’s too early to expect any earth shattering change in BMH policy. These things take time. Maybe when Dave Senecal gets a chance to add his thoughts to the mix, a way forward will emerge.
I think the premise that the voters had been well informed prior to the referendum was a little flawed. Sure there was a lot of back and forth in the press regarding the plans to put more money into the place, but I don’t recall any discussion of the pros and cons of building new. I decided not to promote this idea in the press specifically because I didn’t want that to be used as an excuse for the results that we saw in question 30(a).
On balance, the public has seen various build new plans. The one I had in mind in the referendum was the TOCAG Lehner St plan, however there are many who feel that something could be done at the Library/Public Safety campus. Regardless of location, the building could be erected for less than $2 million, and I’m not sure that message was fully aired.
Ironically, I think the most damage to the build new idea was done several years ago when Marge Webster proposed the $4 million over sized new/electric dept rehab building on Lehner St. The place had 10 bathrooms! Needless to say the idea was dead on arrival. I had the sinking feeling back then that build new was forever jaded. It’s not all that different from the effect that the $6.8 million taj mahal redo had on any BMH restoration efforts.
Linda Murray says that the town needs to be more pro-active about soliciting private funds. I’m not sure that’s a plan in itself. It seems to me that before you ask people for money, you have to tell them what it’s for, and you have to show them that you have a process in place to spend it wisely. Also, I can’t see asking people to contribute money solely to repair a town office building. There has to be some component that makes people feel like they are not just paying extra taxes. I guess she will develop this idea in the future into something that makes sense.
The notion of a preservation trust to solicit funds and to separate the purely utilitarian needs of the town from the building stewardship as a historic monument might be the way forward. The question is whether the Friends are committed enough to the work involved in that.