Muddling the Facts?

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?

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6 Responses to Muddling the Facts?

  1. Paul Green says:

    Obfuscation ? Why?

  2. Tom Bickford says:

    According to the Friends’ website

    “With approval of the Board of Selectmen, The Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall is a leading the effort to raise $1 million in private pledges. A favorable vote for the remainder of the costs – estimated to be $3 million – will allow the Town Hall to be transformed.”

    Friends of the Wolfeboro Town Hall Website. http://wolfeborotownhallfriends.org/?page_id=23
    Cut and paste the link to find the website.

  3. Dick mosher says:

    I am beginning to wonder who writes the editorial column. It is sounding more and more like a member of the the Select Board or the Friends of the Town Hall. (Maybe one in the same)., It seems that electable potential candidates for selectman are not willing to run, which just encourages the incumbents to continue their arrogant way and be damned the electorate.

  4. Walter Spellman says:

    Bob,

    Anything less than a 50/50 private/public partnership would never get my vote. If the Friends have the juice, which I don’t think they have, to privately raise two million plus in secured, not “pledged”, funds then I would possibly consider supporting a renovation, but only after a thorough re-examination of what is needed versus what is wanted. After all, it is an office building to house town business and I view the needs as pretty fundamental.

    From my perch I am curious how rising construction costs and the cost of bonding might affect the final total cost. In my opinion the BOS and Town Manager need to address this for 2014 and beyond, not use estimates from 2010 and 2011.

    Thanks for keeping your eye on this.

    Walter

  5. Having read the Grunter’s editorials about Brewster Memorial Hall for the past seven years, it is interesting that in this week’s edition, the Editors attacks Bucky Melanson’s letter and, clearly demonstrates that he (the Editor) is “as yet another example of how, in a world of unparalleled access to information, political views are still driven by tribal beliefs and anecdotes, not facts. We are prisoners of our own life histories. We are unable to see how assumptions and life rules we grew up with do not work as they used to, and we resent those who point out where reality no longer conforms to our expectations.”
    Oh, those words in “quotes” above are the exact ones he uses to criticize another opinion in the second half of his column. Perhaps the editor should reconsider how his view of BMH is really perceived by his readership.
    Can’t wait to see what Judy has to say in next week’s paper.

  6. wolfeblog says:

    Astute as usual Allen, but goading Judy is out of line. She hasn’t said or done anything recently that would warrant bringing her into this.

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