We all know the importance that the Friends of Brewster Hall place on historic preservation. It’s the centerpiece of their vision of community. It’s a valid point of view and deserving of consideration by others who may feel differently about the priorities that we develop as a community.
As a community. Together. With equal access and equal voice.
After the $4 million warrant article was passed to restore the place, we were told that two Selectmen would lead the effort. Since then, we have heard a few reports about the project culminating in last week’s announcement that they had parred the project down to budget. It was hard work we were told, but they found some savings by not doing things like moving a masonry wall a short distance.
I guess I can live with that. So I asked for a breakdown of the budget and looked at the plans. Oh, they forgot to mention they cut out insulating the walls in that great hall that they intend to heat all winter so ten or twenty people can meet in a 300 person cavernous space.
Ouch. My values are focused less on the bygone century and more on the sustainability of what we leave for the next generation.
How did that happen? Well, as it turns out the ad-hoc committee that has been established to make those kinds of decisions includes members of the Friends of Brewster Hall. You probably didn’t know that because nobody told you there was going to be such a committee and there has been no public mention of it. I came across it in my right-to-know travels.
One of the values that I consider even more important than sustainability is open government. In my opinion RSA 91-A (right-to-know) requires that such a committee post advance notice of it’s meetings, make the agenda available, conduct the meeting in public, and publish the resulting minutes. The Selectmen can still stack the committee with people that share their priorities, but at least we would have the chance to look over their shoulder, see what the choices are, and know who is deciding to spend $4 million on an uninsulated building in the 21st century.