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Proposed Town Hall renovation discussed at selectmen's meeting

January 30, 2014
WOLFEBORO — Warrant Article 7, for the Reduced Scope Renovation of Wolfeboro Town Hall, attracted some public comment at the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen's Jan. 22 meeting.

Voters will be asked to allow the town to raise and appropriate $4 million to be funded by a bond not to exceed $3,889,699. The bond is to be reduced by pledged donations generated by The Friends of the Wolfeboro Town Hall, Inc., and $110, 301 from an existing capital reserve fund designated for that purpose.

A video presentation is available for viewing on the town website.

Suzanne Ryan, after seeking and obtaining reassurance in her first trip to the microphone that the tax impact of each warrant article will be included on the warrant, returned during time designated for public input at the end of the meeting to present a list of concerns as to the regulation and management of the second floor should the article pass.

Ryan suggested that the board be prepared to speak, perhaps at the Deliberative Session (Tues., Feb. 4, at the Kingswood Arts Center, at 7 p.m.) on: any added costs for heat, electricity, liability insurance and water and sewer maintenance; any examples of uses that she proposed might cause problems, such as use of the kitchen, scheduling, or people traffic interfering with operations on the first floor; and plans for emergency evacuation.

She also said she would like to see an itemized list of the estimated costs of each aspect of the plan.

Selectman Chairman Sarah Silk said the town staff handles scheduling for the community center presently, and the scheduling for meetings or events on the second floor would be a similar task.

Selectman David Bowers commented that scheduling is handled at the library and every other town facility, such as the ski lodge, with no problem and offered the opinion that the town has very competent people working for it.

"That's a good list of things," said Selectman Linda Murray, "It would be smart for us to look at it."

Kathy Barnard spoke on behalf of The Friends of Town Hall to request permission to hold public tours of the second floor of the town hall between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on three consecutive Saturdays: Feb. 22, and March 1 and 8. The group will obtain a temporary permit for a banner to hang across the front door area a week before the tours begin. The board gave the okay, contingent on fire department approval.

Josephine Amatucci approached the board with an idea to build "the same new two story building that they are building in Gilford (for $1.2 million)" on the former Ida Glidden property (purchased by the Wolfeboro Library Board of Trustees for anticipated library needs) and keep the old town hall for offices (except for Town Manager Dave Owen's) and rent the "two wings" on either side of the center section.

"The rentals will pay for heat for both buildings," she declared.

Amatucci said the cost of the Gilford town building was $1.2 million for 10,000 square feet. Saying that while the Wolfeboro Town Hall is now 12,000 square feet, and it should be kept because "everyone loves it," she went on the say, "Our building has no charm. There's wood paneling on the walls. No classy place has wood paneling. It has no architectural charm, no molding, no nothing."

She asked if there was still time to get such a proposal on the town warrant. Silk answered that the warrant is already set.

Snowmobile access

Mary DeVries, Excecutive Director of the Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce, asked and received permission for the third year of creating access to the lake for snow mobilers down by the town docks. Tom Wachsmuth has offered his support to help with the process

Public Works Director Dave Ford spoke in support of what remains a pilot program. Weather conditions have not allowed a full implementation up to this point.

Bowers, who owns property adjacent to the park, offered to let snow mobilers cross along his flat beach. To do so would involve taking down a section of town fence during the winter season.

DeVries said that access to the ice would perhaps bring visitors in a different demographic and assist the local economy.

Other business

Finance Director Peter Chamberlain was on hand to answer any questions about his monthly revenues and expenditures report for December. He described the highways and streets line to be fairly close, with December weather raising the demand for overtime to $23,000. Including January time that gets credited back to December, the budget was about $33,000 over, but that will be offset by the Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement of $35,000 received earlier.

Parks and Recreation's budget, including costs of the maintenance building, is "up against the knife's edge this year" commented Chamberlain, but the town is ending up the year in the positive. "Revenues have come in nicely," he remarked.

The next meeting on the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen will be on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 6:30 p.m. in the Wolfeboro Public Library meeting room.

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