All the ducks were in a row at the BOS public hearing Wednesday. All the active members of the Friends were there with well rehearsed and choreographed presentations. One talked about the tourist expectations, another their version of past referendums, yet another the community building potential. An altogether impressive effort.
After awhile, I started to get the theme, but was puzzled why Roger Murray, yellow lawyer pad in hand, hadn’t spoken. I found out after I had my say at the hearing.
His job was to attack me. He launched into it pretty aggressively. Right away stating that I should know everything that’s going on in town because I had made “countless” right to know requests. There were eleven in the past year. I have to wonder why it is that he is kept apprised of my right to know requests.
He launched into the accusation that he had asked me if there was anything they could do to gain my support and according to him, I gave the stupid response “I don’t know”.
In the summer of 2010, Mr. Murray contacted me to ask if I would meet with Mr. Grosvenor of NCA architects to discuss my concerns about energy efficiency of Brewster Hall. I readily agreed and we left it that he would arrange it at Mr. Grosvenor’s convenience the next time he came to town.
Weeks turned to months, the Friends announced their gift of new plans for Brewster Hall (this was the first time in 2010). I got another call from Roger. “I’ve got Mr. Grosvenor here and we wanted to get that meeting going”. I told them that I thought it was kind of late in the process to incorporate the kind of energy saving features that I had in mind. Nevertheless, they insisted that I should meet with Mr. Grosvenor. At that time Mr. Murray asked me if there was anything they could do to gain my support. I believe I honestly replied “I don’t know”.
I didn’t know the details of their plans, I didn’t know what they were willing to do, and I didn’t know what their budget would allow, in short, it was very late in the process and I hadn’t been involved. At the end of the phone conversation, I agreed to meet with Mr. Grosvenor at his earliest convenience. Neither he or Mr. Murray ever followed up.
Roger says he heard I wasn’t satisfied with the Building Science report that was produced that year. Earlier, I had pushed to have the town adopt a set of recommendations contained in a white paper from Building Science that detailed how old masonry buildings could be made very energy efficient. The Friends are not interested in those methods because it compromises the antique plaster and the historic windows that they would rebuild rather than replace. The Building Science report that the town paid for (the one I brought them was free), described what minimum measures can be taken if they insist on keeping the building original. I told Mrs Murray that I would prefer the town adopt the original recommendations, and that at that time, the new recommendations were never actually incorporated into any plans, so it was hard to say what I thought of them. As far as I know, in the three years since the report was produced, none of the recommendations have been incorporated into any actual building plans. They are still just talking points.
Bottom line, all of these criticisms were used to try to portray me as someone who is unreasonable and couldn’t be satisfied despite their extraordinary efforts.
They all seem to have lost sight of the fact that I did support that 2011 restoration warrant. At the deliberative session I think what I said was that if you want to fix this building, this is as good as it gets, and you ought to vote for it. Later that night, I said simply that I support the article. The following year, I got up at the deliberative session and spoke in favor of the $200,000 repair warrant article.
Personal attacks go with the territory, especially when they have no legitimate counter to my criticism of their current plans.