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Wolfeboro Deliberative Session changes five warrant articles

February 04, 2010
WOLFEBORO — Wolfeboro's Deliberative Session on Tuesday, Feb. 9, ran into the night, past many people's bedtimes, but the stalwart citizens who showed up to the Kingswood Regional High School auditorium to support or challenge the town's proposed warrant articles, one at a time, were able to take part in the time-honored tradition of participatory democracy.

Articles 1-10, primarily zoning articles, were off the table; the planning board has held public hearings on them all, as required by law. That left articles 11 – 36 for discussion. Many amendments were offered, and almost every article drew comment. And by the end of the evening, five were amended.

Support for the raising and appropriation of $110,000 "for the purposed of making repairs and improvements to and maintaining the John Brewster Memorial Building" (Article 19), was not in question, but the means of funding it was.

Dick Shurtleff, a trustee of the trust funds, speaking for himself, urged voters to transfer money from a capital reserve account of $102,415 for that purpose and ask voters for an additional $10,000 to slightly exceed the $110,000 amount.

Town Manager Dave Owen spoke against that proposal. He said that the town is trying to shore up capital reserves and expressed concern that there would be no money for contingencies if the account was depleted.

After lengthy discussion from the floor and failure of two previous amendments, Suzanne Ryan proposed that the $110,000 figure for repairs and improvements to Brewster Memorial Hall in Article 19 come from the transfer of $100,000 from that particular capital reserve account, established in 2001, with an additional $10,000 to be raised by taxation. That amendment passed with a six vote margin (61-54). That will leave $2,415 in the reserve fund.

Library Trustee Candace Thayer offered an amendment to reduce the $60,000 requested in Article 22 for the library expansion feasibility study to $40,000, explaining that after receiving and studying 17 proposals, the trustees determined that the reduced amount would be adequate. Her amendment passed with no discussion.

Article 24, the South Main Street (Route 28) corridor study and conceptual design article, asks for $99,000 to fund the study. Public Works Director Dave Ford said that Wolfeboro was not included in the state's 10-year program the last time around because it has no clearly defined conceptual plan for improvements. Ford said that completing the study and defining solutions could put Wolfeboro in line for grants to pay for 80 – 100 percent of the project cost in the years to come.

Ryan and John Linville both expressed concern that the state is passing some of its responsibilities onto the town. Ford said that he shared their frustration with the system, but said that he can't fight it. In his opinion, "you have to play the game." Without the study, the town will not be on the state's top 10 list for highway improvements.

Noreen McDonald made a successful amendment to the article, adding wording to make its potential to qualify the town for state grants and funding clear.

Article 35, submitted by petition, on the establishment of a Heritage Commission, drew discussion on the geographical extent of the commission's advisory authority, and questions on the purpose and necessity of such a commission. Todd Fichter, a member of the Historic District Commission spoke in support of the article, while Selectman Kristi Ginter said she could foresee legal challenges to the article as written.

Modifications to the article proposed separately by Fichter and Charlene Seibel failed.

Ginter proposed an amendment that gutted the article by changing it to read, "To see if the Town will vote." The audience supported the amendment.

Ron Figuly spoke on Article 36, which he submitted by petition. It asks to see if the town will vote to approve the resolution stating the "citizens of New Hampshire should be allowed to vote on an amendment to the New Hampshire constitution that defines marriage." John Struble, speaking as someone in a same sex marriage, countered the article with an amendment to change the wording to "The citizens of New Hampshire commend the governor and legislature for supporting equal rights for all New Hampshire citizens." The amendment passed to the applause of those who stayed to vote on this last article.

A complete review of all Wolfeboro warrant articles, as approved or amended, will appear next week.

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