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Selectmen review warrant articles for March vote


New town Web site nearing completion


November 25, 2009
WOLFEBORO —Selectmen held a preliminary review of 21 proposed warrant articles for the March 2010 ballot on Nov. 18.

While some changes were made, the board deferred final decisions to a work session held after deadline on Nov. 23. A full report on those decisions will follow next week.

To simplify the process of review the 21 articles were assigned letters from A to U. Once the list is winnowed and reordered, ballot numbers will be applied.

Uprades and Repairs. The largest group of articles proposed upgrades or repairs to town facilities. These eight proposals included (Article B) completing the upgrades to the Dockside area by replacing the chain link fence along the Back Bay channel with a continuation of the black iron fence restored in 2009 and extending the stamped concrete surface along the same corridor for $70,000.

Article C proposes for the second year to complete a professional evaluation of town buildings and prepare a Capital Asset Management Plan for $90,000. The buildings proposed to be evaluated were Dockside Restaurant, the Community Center, library, Libby Museum, highway garages, Pop Whalen Ice Arena and the solid waste facility. The board agreed that the town needs to evaluate the condition of all of its buildings before priorities can be set and plans made. Chairman Dave Senecal proposed limiting the 2010 warrant to the five most critical facilities: Dockside, Libby Museum, highway garages and Public Safety Building (which was missing from the draft article): at $12,000 per facility that would reduce the total from $90,000 to $60,000. He pointed out that the library and ice arena are being addressed in the operating budgets and that the future of the Community Center was unknown.

Like Article C, Article G asks voters to reconsider proposals turned down last March. This time the proposal is for a second phase of upgrades to town facilities to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including ramps and new bathrooms for the Pop Whalen Ice Arena and the bathhouses at Brewster and Carry Beaches for $250,000. Selectman Linda Murray proposed breaking the article down into two parts, separating the arena upgrades from those at the beaches. Selectman Marge Webster thought the opposite and asked why all ADA upgrades were not in one article (referring to Articles L and M below).

Article H is to complete the upgrades to the Railroad Station begun last year under Article 15 for a bid price of $77,000. When the $145,000 project was begun last summer numerous additional problems were found. Rather than put the work off, the board decided to make the most critical repairs within the approved budget and ask voters to approve the remaining repairs in 2010. Murray submitted revised language that specifies the work to be done.

Article L asks for $90,000 to provide an ADA-compliant bathroom for the Public Safety Building, as required by the Department of Justice following its ADA audit this summer.

Article M asks for $110,000 to make interim repairs to Brewster Hall. These would include providing ADA-compliant entrances, fix the leak in the roof and install snow guards, repair or replace windows and window sills, install fire alarm and panic alarm systems, and reconstruct the rear entrance to make it safer and more weatherproof. Town Planner Rob Houseman pointed out that continuing discussions of town office options have put off these needed repairs, some of which have been requested by the Department of Justice, the state Department of Labor and Primex, the town's insurance carrier.

Article N asks for $60,000 for a feasibility study for a new library, to be paid for by the library's building trust fund.

Article S asks for $200,000 to rebuild and resurface the tennis and basketball courts at Foss Field, a project deferred from last year.

Infrastructure Projects. Six of the warrant articles deal with ongoing infrastructure projects. Article D asks for $550,000 to upgrade town roads. This is up from the $400,000 requested for the last few years to reflect higher costs and better definition of the most critical problems that need to be addressed.

Article E asked for $600,000 for Center Street drainage upgrades. Murray proposed a rewording that would add language about using grants to reduce the cost.

Article F proposes spending $99,000 to fund a study of the South Main Street Route 28 corridor and provide conceptual designs to correct the issues identified. Even though Route 28 is a state highway, Ford has argued that the town will need a study like this to get the rebuilding of that road from the Alton town line to Pickering Corner back on the state DOT 10-year plan (it was dropped last year due to costs). With a plan, Ford argued, the work could be phased if necessary. Murray suggested this article and Article C (now $60,000) do not need to be bonded and thus only need a simple majority to pass instead of 60 percent.

Article I asks for $600,000 to replace the water lines on Glendon and Lehner Streets, following the work done on Union and School Streets this year.

Article J asks for $95,000 for designing road, drainage, water and sewer improvements to Crescent Lake Avenue and Pine Street.

Article K asks for $1,200,000 to rebuild roadways, sidewalks and drainage systems on Glendon, Lehner, School and Union Streets, part of the Downtown Streets project.

Equipment and Reserves. Article A asks for $100,000 to replace the 2003 1.5-ton truck for the Highway Department. Article Q would add $137,750 for the Fire Trucks and Apparatus Replacement Capital Reserve, and Article R would add $95,000 to the Public Works Vehicle and Equipment Capital Reserve.

Miscellaneous. Article O would discontinue the Old Fire Truck Capital Reserve and transfer remaining funds into the new Fire Truck and Apparatus Reserve. Article P would discontinue the Foss Field Lights Capital Reserve and transfer its funds to the general fund. Article T would raise $175,000 to stabilize the banks of the Smith River and Article U would retain two tax-deed properties on Brown's Ridge Road and Governor Wentworth Highway, to be managed by the Conservation Commission.

With the hour approaching 10 p.m. the board decided to go through the articles once again at a meeting the following Monday, Nov. 23, at the Wolfeboro Inn. A full report on that special meeting will follow next week.

Virtual Town Hall

Bill Letsky of Virtual Town Hall gave a presentation on the improved town Web site which will be operational in the middle of December. Wakefield is also considering converting its Web site to Virtual Town Hall. New Durham and Tuftonboro are already clients of the Web site firm. New Durham converted last year and Tuftonboro this year.

Monthly expense and revenue review

Finance Director Peter Chamberlin reviewed town expenses and revenues to date. His report gave a breakdown of the legal expenses that are over budget. Welfare expenses are also at 109.71 percent of budget through October, but otherwise all departments are 79 percent expended through October, against the expected 83 percent. Chamberlin said he has issued a "budget caution" to department heads but is not recommending a freeze at this time.

Other business

Selectmen approved a proposal from Parks and Recreation Director Ethan Hipple to allow Brookfield residents to participate in Wolfeboro recreation programs at town rates, in return for an annual subsidy from the Town of Brookfield. Tuftonboro has been paying $15,000 a year to subsidize the same arrangement for its residents. The $4,216 for Brookfield is the same per capita fee as Tuftonboro's, adjusted for Brookfield's lower population.

The board adopted a revised Mileage and Expense Reimbursement policy. As proposed by Town Manager Dave Owen, the policy would require employees and board members seeking reimbursement to carry minimum liability insurance of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident, $5,000 for medical payments and include coverage for uninsured motorists and property damage.

Selectmen also approved minor changes to the Hawkers and Peddlers Ordinance, giving the town more flexibility in reassigning spaces.

They also approved a survey insert to be mailed with electric bills from the Agricultural Commission. The survey asks Wolfeboro residents to identify what agricultural activities they are involved with as part of an effort to identify the nature and scope of agriculture in the town.

The board also signed a loan agreement with the Municipal Bond Bank for $872,636 for wastewater projects.

A proposal for a Winter Employee Appreciation Afternoon was tabled, with the feeling that a Christmas party was more appropriate, together with an annual outing in September.

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