Everything looks like a nail

This was published in the Grunter today.

In last week’s paper there was a report on a future uses of Town Hall forum conducted by the Friends on November 13. The forum was attended by a quorum of our Selectmen and was described as an opportunity for representatives of 17 non-profit organizations to express their needs for community meeting space and other possible uses for a restored Brewster Hall.

So what’s wrong with that? Well, lets take a step back. This is a private group, along with our Board of Selectmen, conducting a needs survey of local organizations, with an emphasis on satisfying those needs through a particular publicly funded project that has been repeatedly rejected by the voters.

Concerts were identified as a potential use, yet we have a brand new performing arts center in town sporting a world class Steinway concert grand piano.  Lectures, film-screenings, and children programs sound like the short-list of justifications being given for a new library. Flower shows and off season farmer’s market – really? It’s a solution looking for a problem.

It all goes to my ongoing objection to the Selectmen moving planning authority for Brewster Hall outside of the public domain. If we are going to bring in the various service organizations of the town to discuss how the town might spend millions of dollars to accommodate their needs, we ought to have a process that allows all citizens to participate in deciding the best way to do that.

To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

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2 Responses to Everything looks like a nail

  1. I saw in the paper this week a notice for bond review at the Library on 12-19-12. The first item was for $130,000 to purchase and demolish two buildings on Lehner St. Does anyone know the intent for this property and why this real estate purchase is a being considered as a Warrant Article for 2013. I haven not seen nor heard anything about this action. Any thoughts?

  2. wolfeblog says:

    Hi Allen,

    This was first brought up at a Selectmen’s meeting several months ago. The properties are the derelict houses adjacent to the town parking lot at Foss Field. The idea was that they are an eyesore, nave been for some time, and will probably remain so for quite awhile. The Town Manager proposed negotiating with the Duco, the owner, to engage the services of a mutually acceptable appraiser to set a sale price. His estimate was that it would come out as $70k each, and $15K each for demolition = $170K. I don’t know if an appraisal is in hand yet, but presumably it is or the amount would be adjusted at the deliberative session.

    The town would raze the buildings and annex the property to the town recreation area at Foss Field. There is some potential wetland there but according to Dave Senecal it is man-made and can be altered. The feeling among the Selectmen seemed to be that it would be up to the voters, which I agree with. The decision of whether to bond such an amount may be more controversial. I believe the town treasurer would say no – pay as you go. Others like the idea of minimizing the argument by citing a lesser annual impact on the tax-rate. My recollection is that the chairman was the one who indicated a preference for bonding.

    I notice that the owner still has them up for sale, and it is a prime property for redevelopment as family housing. Can you beat the location right next to Foss Field, near the school and shopping?

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