TOWN CLERK PAT WATERMAN at the counter in the new town offices helping Paula Warner complete a car registration. The first day of business in the new location did not go well at first for Waterman as the state's computer would not allow her staff to complete registrations, but the source of the problem was found and fixed, and by early afternoon smiles had returned to the faces of town staff and residents alike. (Thomas Beeler photo) (click for larger version)
August 07, 2014WOLFEBORO — Last week Wolfeboro moved its town offices out of the Brewster Memorial Hall building to temporary new offices at Huggins Hospital, and reopened for business at its new location at 8 a.m. Monday morning, Aug. 4.
We spoke with town employees in their new offices and everyone agreed that the move went more smoothly than they expected. "We actually got a little ahead of schedule," Tax Collector Brenda LaPointe said. "The movers were very helpful."
Everyone had unpacked and the offices were set up and systems working by last Friday, Aug. 1. The Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall treated staff members to a free lunch in the Huggins Hospital café that day.
The only serious glitch happened on Monday morning when computers in Town Clerk Pat Waterman's office were unable to link to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Concord to do vehicle registrations and renewals, and lines formed in the hallway. After a while the source of the problem was found and fixed and by early afternoon the lines has disappeared and there was no waiting.
Waterman noted that the waiting area in her new location (a converted nurses' station) was much larger than it was at Town Hall – with room for chairs, no less – so the delay was at least tolerable to those who were affected.
"The reason things went so smoothly is because town employees worked so hard to get it right," Waterman said. "The credit should go to them."
The new offices are located in a former wing of Huggins Hospital. To reach them, turn off of South Main Street at All Saints Church into Crescent Lake Avenue and take the first entrance on the left. A sign will direct you around to the back parking lot where there are dedicated spaces for town office customers. The "Wolfeboro Town Offices" sign was moved from the old building to mark clearly the entrance to the new offices.
A drop box for those who wish to deposit payments after hours is located conveniently next to the entrance, allowing residents to drive up to it and make a deposit without getting out of their cars.
When you enter the offices you come into a wide hallway with offices on each side, beginning with those for town manager, followed by human resources, finance department, and planning and zoning. Most visitors will proceed down the main hallway to the town clerk's counter on the left, and those who need to pay water, sewer and electric bills and property taxes need to take a left turn into the corridor just past the town clerk's counter.
The new location does offer some advantages over the old – which is just as well, since town employees will be there for a year. For one thing there is central heating and air conditioning rather than noisy window air conditioning units and electric space heaters. On what was a fairly hot summer day the offices were much cooler and quieter.
Another advantage is the Huggins café, which town employees can reach without leaving the building. Residents too can avail themselves of this pleasant and convenient place to eat when they visit the town offices.
Last, but not least, in a medical emergency visitors and employees alike will be as close as possible to the hospital and to doctors' offices.
Huggins Hospital formally welcomed its new tenants on Wednesday, Aug. 6, with a pizza party lunch hosted by President Mike Connelly and the hospital administrative team.
Meanwhile, back at the old building, construction fencing will be erected shortly. Potential bidders on the first phase of the renovation were given a tour of the building on Tuesday, Aug. 5, and work should be well under way by the end of the month.
Because of the disruption caused by the move, Wolfeboro selectmen decided not to meet on the first Wednesday of the month, Aug. 6. The next Board of Selectmen meeting will be held at the library meeting room on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at 6:30 p.m.