As we see the downtown reconstruction taking shape, I can’t imagine how anyone could not recognize the magnitude of the achievement. As the timelines of the final paving and signage were explained at the recent BOS meeting, I couldn’t help but notice what I considered to be a look of satisfaction and pride on the face of the Chairman. Rightly so.
A year ago, I had a meeting with her where she talked about the state of the town, and the downtown in particular, after the reign of the previous Town Manager and boards. At the risk of putting words in her mouth, my recollection was that she thought it was looking particularly run down and shabby. At the time, the improvements to grounds at the Dockside had been completed and several major street projects were in process. The Train Station, regardless of how you think it should have been handled, was much improved.
Though I disagree on several significant and specific undertakings in town, I have to give credit for the big picture. It didn’t just happen. It has been years in the making and represents a vision, determination, and a lot of coordinated work that consumed an extraordinary amount of time, weathering a lot of trials and tribulations. I think that in the future this will be viewed as one of the most productive periods in the town’s recent history. Congratulations to Linda Murray.
Respectfully, while the scope of repairs is impressive, the big picture is that this period of productivity is sparked less by the “vision” of the Board of Selectmen then by two driving forces. The first is the need to meet the waste water treatment requirements of the NH Dept of Environmental Services which, in light of the failed RIBs, means repairs to the sewer lines to keep water infiltration into the lines to a minimum and within the plant’s capacity, and, to meet the US Dept of Justice’s deadlines for compliance with the “Americans with Disabilities Act” that required many of the improvements to the down town parking areas, sidewalks, Dockside, the Railroad Station, and more.
If anyone is to be thanked for improved sidewalks and the overall accessibility of the Town, it is Bobby Hanson, who had the courage to take his complaints to the US Department of Justice, which initiated the resulting enforcement action that required these repairs. “http://www.ada.gov/wolfeboro_NH.htm” is the link to the settlement agreement reached between between the Board of Selectmen and the US Department of Justice that sets out the deadlines for the ADA improvements that you see being met by the work downtown.
Last, but not least, a thank you should go out to David Ford who has planned and is orchestrating all the different projects currently underway. It can be no small task coordinating both the below ground and street level repairs going on in the area of Glendon, Lehner and School Street and the downtown area.
I just don’t think those grapes are all that sour, and more importantly, I don’t think the voters will either.
You could chalk up those driving forces to serendipity, and it’s true that a lot of people deserve credit for their efforts, but I’m just saying that the idea was conveyed to me as a goal some time back, and the effort has been productive and ongoing. The more I stick my nose into this stuff, the more I appreciate how really hard it is to get things done in town government.
That said, the ultimate goal includes burying all the utilities and restoring Brewster Hall at taxpayer expense. You know where I stand on that and by comparison, the cost to date is small.