Bucky Melanson submitted a brief letter to the paper this week asking several good questions concerning the disposition and future plans for Brewster Hall. In typical fashion, the Editor used the power of his editorial column to marginalize and discredit him.
The editorial states flatly: “The Board of Selectmen has made it clear that it will not be pursuing a full renovation like the $4 million plan presented in 2011 anytime soon.”. Really? When was that? As far as I can tell, the Selectmen haven’t mentioned a word about future BMH plans since their Oct 17 meeting when they approved…… a $4 million renovation plan.
The Capital Improvement Plan for the coming year includes $4 million for Brewster Hall. That line item was elevated to “urgent” by the CIP committee, largely composed of Brewster Hall boosters including their founding president.
What will it really cost? Good question. Three million of the plan was a so called “phased” repackaging of the 2011 $4 million plan, with the same cost spreadsheet items. When some of those items were included in the repairs undertaken in the 2012 $200,000 repair warrant, the actual costs were 50% to 250% higher.
Selectman Murray has never told the public how she arrived at the $1 million assigned to the “multi-purpose” second floor that she had Mr. Houseman “design” that day by changing the name on the auditorium drawing from the original $6.8 million restoration. When asked at the Oct 17 meeting if the plan included an elevator, she answered yes. In fact, the plans include neither an elevator or even stairs.
I may not agree with Mr. Melanson’s vision for the building, but I think he’s entitled to answers to his reasonable questions and the opportunity to review and comment on the Friend’s design of his Town Hall. The fact is that in both an impartial survey by the UNH survey center and in a non-binding referendum on the ballot in 2011, a majority of Wolfeboro voters indicated that they do not support a multi-million renovation. Voters have also rejected multi-million restoration warrants twice.
They can’t have it both ways. Saying the $200,000 that we spent made Brewster Hall safe and healthy while calling for an “urgent” mega-million restoration and stating there is no alternative.
The Friends are actively working their supporters behind the scenes with the intention of making another run at it, priming the pump with a few private dollars. Voters, who are in the dark and without any way to participate in the process will be asked to pony up the lions share of the Friends vision.
If this town wanted to restore BMH, it would be done by now. Seems like people want to just fix the old offices up and have an old town office just like about every other town in New Hampshire. Regardless of your position, don’t you think it would be fair to conduct this business out in the open and, after seven years, allow those with a different idea the opportunity to participate?