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Joyce Endee

Lehner Street buildings acquisition falls through

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News

THE TWO BUILDINGS at 74 and 80 Lehner Street in Wolfeboro. Selectmen wanted to purchase the properties and remove the derelict buildings but the owner did not accept the independent appraisal of $100,000. The 2013 warrant article proposing the purchase has now been withdrawn. (Thomas Beeler photo) (click for larger version)
December 27, 2012
WOLFEBORO — At the beginning of the public hearing on 2013 bonded warrant articles on Wednesday, Dec. 19, Selectmen Chair Linda Murray announced that Article A, which called for the purchase and demolition of two derelict buildings at 74 and 80 Lehner Street, was being withdrawn.

At their last meeting on Dec. 5 selectmen announced that Peter Knight of Knight Appraisal of Dover the appraiser that both the town and owner Paul Dumont had agreed to use had turned in his evaluation at $50,000 per property or $100,000 for both. This was $50,000 less than had been estimated, so selectmen reduced the amount to be raised on Article A from $180,000 to $130,000, including the estimated cost of demolition at $15,000 per building.

Selectmen had agreed that the cost to be used in the warrant article would be based on the value provided by the independent appraiser and not negotiated further.

Dumont notified the town that the appraised price was unacceptable. That in turn led to the decision to delete the warrant article.

Selectmen then went over the remaining 17 articles on the 2013 and added a 18th.

A required public hearing was held on the first five articles, all of which were bonded. For each of the other four articles the interest cost on the bonds payable in 2013, if any, was included. The board also voted whether or not to recommend each article: board recommendations by selectmen and Budget Committee are printed on the ballot for any money articles.

Article A was removed, as noted earlier.

Article B: Center Street Reconstruction for $2.1 million (state to pay $1.4 million and town to pay $700,000). It was noted that work will not begin until 2014 and the area to be rebuilt extends from Pickering Corner to Willow Street, opposite the Wright Museum. Public Works Director Dave Ford described how the work will be done as a town-managed state project, with the town soliciting bids and the state approving the final bidder. The state will pay two-thirds of costs. A major feature of the work will be the realignment of the intersection at Lehner and Center Streets: the intersection will be shifted toward Dunkin Donuts to improvement visibility for traffic entering Center from Lehner.

Suzanne Ryan asked if this project was premature, since no decisions have been made about the intersection at Pickering Corner, where the choice is between installing traffic lights or a roundabout. For responded that under current state funding levels it will be more than 10 years before any work is done on Route 28, and any work that will need to be redone then will be minor.

There will be no interest costs for this project in 2013. The board voted 5-0 to recommend it.

Article C: Sewer System Upgrades for $400,000. Ryan asked where the work will be done. Ford responded that rather than doing major reconstructions of sewer lines, as was done in the past, specific areas of leaks will be identified and repaired, as was done in a pilot project on Center Street. Of the total of $400,000, $150,000 will fund a study of private inflows to the system, working with the community; $200,000 will pay for spot repairs; and $50,000 will be spent identifying system leaks to be fixed in the future.

Ford said that 50 percent of the inflow to the wastewater treatment plant comes from ground water. Thanks to the earlier Inflow and Infiltration repair project, the treatment inflow has been reduced from 140 to 104 million gallons and the cost of treatment has been reduced.

Interest costs for this project will be $6,000 in 2013. The board voted 5-0 to recommend it.

Article D: Public Works Garage Upgrades for $340,000 ($100,600 from existing reserves, $239,400 to be raised from bonds). Ford noted that in 2006 a study was done that recommended a new $3 million garage facility be built. His view was that, with some exceptions the buildings were not pretty but still had useful life in them, so instead of building a new facility his department is proposing piecemeal upgrades. This will include replacing the non-compliant fuel tanks and pump, the obsolete vehicle lift and the salt shed and adding hangers for the salt and sand spreader units.

Interest costs for this project will be $3,600 in 2013. The board voted 5-0 to recommend it.

Article E: Construct Parks Maintenance Building for $200,000. A new version of the site plan was submitted that makes clearer the location of the proposed building as well as potential future additions. Selectman Dave Senecal said that building when first proposed was larger and a Morton steel building, but is now down to 3,000 square feet and will be wood framed. "We have a lot of expensive equipment that needs a place to be stored and serviced," he said. The building replaces four smaller buildings on the site that are falling down, Murray said.

Interest costs for this project will be $3,600 in 2013. The board voted 5-0 to recommend it.

The board also voted 5-0 to recommend 12 of the remaining articles. The 2013 Operating budget was not voted on because the Budget Committee was still reviewing it.

No wording was changed on any article but selectmen did provide additional information on some of them:

For Article G: Middleton Road Design of Improvements, Selectman Senecal pointed out from personal experience that the state does not maintain the road even though it is technically a state road. The aim here is to have the state pay two-thirds of the cost of needed improvements before the town takes ownership. The reconstruction of the road will not be done until 2015: this article is to prepare surveys and plans.

For Article H: ADA Parking Lot Improvements at Town Hall, an updated plan was provided. The earlier plan was from the 2007 Town Hall warrant article and is incorrect.

For Article I: Electric Meter Upgrades, Town Manager Dave Owen clarified that the new meters will read only one-way, by a Wolfeboro Municipal Electric truck passing by. They will not be hard-wired to the internet as some are: those meters allow two-way communication and have raised privacy concerns with some people.

For Article Q: AFSCME Contract Agreement, final results of the two-year bargaining agreement were inserted. The added cost for raises and benefits in 2013 will be $45,015 and for 2014, $41,671. Owen pointed out that the union supported changing health care managers from the Local Government Center to SchoolCare, which avoid a 10.4 percent rate increase and saved the town nearly $90,000 over 2012 costs.

For Article R: Police Union Contract Agreement: final results of the two-year bargaining agreement were also inserted. The added cost for raises and benefits in 2013 will be $26,768 and for 2014, $30,172.

Selectmen also voted to add new Article U: Buildings Evaluation and Maintenance to address structural and system issues at the Libby Museum and Wolfeboro Public Library. Public Works Director Ford is preparing estimates for the work. Please see separate article on the problems identified in both buildings.

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