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Center Harbor will pursue passage of the police station in 2011

March 24, 2010
CENTER HARBOR — The town will pursue passage of the police station at next year's town meeting, with town officials taking new strategies after the station was defeated by just a few votes.

The Board of Selectmen discussed options with Police Chief Mark Chase during Wednesday's meeting, a week after the station did not make its two-thirds majority by around six votes.

"We did not get blown out of the water," said Selectman Charley Hanson, saying he left the meeting feeing positive about the situation. "The numbers of voters we had, if we had six people we would have it."

Selectman Randy Mattson said the board underestimated how many votes would be needed for a two-thirds majority.

Board members did discuss if they left something unsaid or lacked a particular effort to get the votes needed. Another issue they said was the negative response to the station, including information shared by a local resident that selectmen said was not true.

Hanson said it is not uncommon for such an initiative to fail the first time, and the vote was close.

"That says a lot in my mind," Hanson said "A lot of the no votes was, 'We're spending a lot of money."

Mattson said the board forgot to talk about the tax impact. Additionally, Mattson suggested that stakes be put in the property to show how big the proposed building was going to be.

"It's one think to look at a poster, but when you actually see stakes…" Mattson said. "People are imagining this is going to take up the entire park."

She said this would show there will be a significant amount of park space left.

Chase said the town should continue to the probate court proceedings for the land and get the Park Committee underway. Then the town can look at alternatives and educate people on the process.

Officials also said they regretted not getting up to speak to the article when it was called.

"We were ready to get up and speak, we missed our opportunity, shame on us," Chase said.

Another option for the future would be to further share information and get the word out on the project, especially now that the town has another year until town meeting. Hanson said this could be followed by another public hearing to get more input on what people would prefer. Chase said people could also be given a survey to see where the public stands.

"Let's just let things settle down for a while," Hanson said, saying the town should continue with the park project and dispel the rumors that the proceedings could get hung up by legal challenges.

Setting stakes on the property is another future step as is having mailers with information on the station.

In the meantime the Police Department will have some interim changes to their current space, such as taking storage space in the Brooks House and having small building changes such as new lighting over the back door of the Municipal Building and the eventual replacement of the back door.

Littleton Chmber
Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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