Another town office option for Wolfeboro coming
Selectman Murray criticizes lack of transparency
January 07, 2010
WOLFEBORO — At the Budget Committee meeting on Dec. 28, Selectmen's Representative Marge Webster asked the committee not to discuss or vote on the article for a new town office building on Lehner Street recently adopted by a 3-2 selectmen's vote.
When asked why she didn't want the article considered, Webster said "the selectmen have something else in the pipeline that will be discussed at their next meeting."
At the next Budget Committee meeting on Jan. 4 Selectman Chair Dave Senecal stated that the board would be reviewing a proposal for the Bell Building, located next to the decommissioned Municipal Electric building on Lehner Street. The three-story office building with basement (Map 217 Lot 70) is owned by Green Mountain Realty and is assessed by the town at $814,900.
Selectmen Linda Murray read a statement at the same Jan. 4 meeting criticizing Webster's Dec. 28 request that the Budget Committee not vote on the $4.5 million Lehner Street proposal. Murray pointed out that since the Dec. 7 meeting where selectmen voted to add the $4.5 million proposal to the warrant the only change was a change of wording on her part on Dec. 16 to clarify what was being proposed that Murray herself had recommended.
"The Board of Selectmen has not discussed any other changes to $4.5 million dollar warrant article nor has it discussed or voted to request that the Budget Committee delay acting on it," Murray said in her statement. "In fact on January 6th the Board of Selectmen has scheduled a bond public hearing on this Warrant Article. I checked my January 6th agenda packet and materials to see if there was a revised or new warrant article for Town Offices and there is none…But what I do know is that David Owen informed me that the Chairman of the BOS had asked him to meet with Victor Drouin to discuss a lease or purchase of his building.
"At the November 23rd Board of Selectmen's meeting I asked the Board if there was going to be any other town office option and I was told by the Chairman 'not that I am aware of.'
"After discovering, by a right-to-know request, that the Chairman had instructed the Town Manager to hold off on providing all the Selectmen with a copy of Drouin Building appraisal, I requested a copy of that appraisal at the December 16th BOS meeting. I received the appraisal on December 17th.
"The Board was notified on December 17th that the chairman and Town Manager were meeting with Victor Drouin on December 18th.
"I requested a report on the Chairman's discussion with Mr. Drouin. I have received no report. But the Chairman was willing to arrange for any selectmen to tour the Drouin building.
"Today I did meet with Victor Drouin to tour his building in the hopes that I would have some understanding of what might be in the works.
"I have no idea what is in some pipeline nor does the public since there is no discussion item of Town Offices on the January 6th Selectmen's agenda," Murray concluded.
The next meeting of the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen was held last evening, Jan. 6, after this issue of the newspaper went to press. A brief on the discussion will be posted as "Breaking News" on our Web site, www.granitestatenews.com and a complete report will follow in next week's paper.
Also at the Jan. 4 meeting the Budget Committee voted 9-0 (with Webster abstaining) in favor of a petitioned warrant article submitted by the Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall for $110,000 to make necessary repairs and improvements to Brewster Hall. Wolfeboro selectmen voted 3-2 on Dec. 7 to cut the original warrant article prepared by town staff from $110,000 to $50,000. Unless the smaller selectmen's article is withdrawn, both Brewster Hall articles will be reviewed and voted on at the Deliberative Session on Feb. 2.