A couple of years ago, our Parks and Rec department was trying to get some traction with an idea for a combination community center/senior center on the site of the current community center. It would have walked out to the new parking lot next to Foss Field and cost a couple of million dollars. It was such a good idea that the Friends killed it in the CIP committee.
If I gave you a few million dollars to improve the facilities available to the various clubs, agencies and service organizations in town, what would you do with it? Would you look for a cavernous old second-floor auditorium or take a serious look at that new community center proposal?
Enter Mr. Hobson and the Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall. Eliminate discussion and limit choice to get what you want.
Over the past seven years, they’ve used that formula to obtain more than a million dollars to pursue various Brewster Hall initiatives. What do we have to show for it? More to the point, what should we expect if we quadruple down and give the Friends another four million?
Let’s be clear about their latest Brewster Hall proposal: There are few details, no construction plans, and no contractor cost estimate. They don’t even plan to renovate all of the current town offices. Historic preservation will trump practical considerations and when the money runs out, they’ll be back for more. It’s no surprise that the two Selectmen who have years of experience with construction do not support this warrant article.
Next time you’re in front of Brewster Hall, take a closer look at that Romeo and Juliet balcony on the front of the clock tower. You’ll recall that the Friends had it completely removed and professionally rebuilt five years ago. It took all summer and I have to say it looked pretty good when completed. Today it’s sagging, pealing and rotting. Think four million will buy us another hundred years? Think again.
The only real question before us is whether to go all-in on a 19th century money-pit or hold out for the choice to build practical infrastructure and move forward into the 21st century.