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Selectmen aim to open Libby Museum July 15


May 20, 2020
WOLFEBORO — With the governor modifying state pandemic guidelines every three weeks as the numbers of those affected by the COVID-19 virus unfolds, the Board of Selectmen met on Wednesday evening, May 13, to develop plans to reopen the Libby Museum on July 15.

The successful motion to do so contains the caveats that the opening will be consistent with state guidelines, precautions will be exercised, and staff will be adequate to monitor physical distancing.

Several members spoke on behalf of the young people who have been doing their schooling by remote since mid March and would look forward to visiting the natural history museum this summer.

Town Manager Jim Pineo stated that the floor stabilization problems have been rectified and the general opinion was that the space is open, making it easy to monitor flow. Pineo mentioned the need to have hand sanitizer readily available and said that touchless transactions would need to be figured out.

All agreed that the building needs to be opened up for cleaning and the uncovering of exhibits, even if the opening has to be further delayed. Chairman Brad Harriman recommended that the process start sooner rather than later in consideration of the arrival of warmer, humid weather and concomitant mold problems. Museum Director Alana Albee, currently on furlough, said it takes several weeks to prepare the building for the opening.

Pineo asked for direction on spending of the $300,000 appropriation for the Libby Museum Capital Reserve Fund per vote of the electorate on Warrant Article #12 in March. It was agreed that Selectman Dave Senecal, Harriman and Pineo would review the documents and surveys that have been completed over the past year to begin to prioritize maintenance projects.

Maggie Stier, a member of the town's Heritage Committee, offered to assist in writing an LCHIP grant along with Albee for funding for preservation of the building. She said in her experience with writing such grants, the project has a number of pluses: it has already set up a Capital Reserve Fund; it is on the Historical Register; and a structural assessment is in the file.

Asked if a possible future expansion would interfere with the requirements of the grant, Stier said that it would not, for it has been designed to fit at the back of the building and has low roof lines that do not interfere with the look of the original building.

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