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What to do with the Dearborn property?

Tuftonboro selectmen want to hear from the public

May 13, 2010
TUFTONBORO — With the Gould property chosen for the site of Tuftonboro's new fire station, what is to become of the Dearborn property across the street from Tuftonboro Central School? Should the town sell it and put it back on the tax rolls or hold on to it for future needs or wait for the real estate market to improve? The board of selectmen is considering those questions while it considers architectural proposals for the new building.

Selectman Dan Duffy, the board's representative to the planning board, said at the selectmen's meeting on May 10, that it voted 4-3 against selling the property at this time. It was felt by most that the property is in a key location, the value is down considerably from the purchase price, and the taxes would not represent much of a gain.

Selectmen Chair Carolyn Sundquist pointed out that the town has about 100 acres already in that area, including the Gould property and the library, but said that she would like to give the public a chance to give its opinion at two public hearings, before any decision is made.

The Conservation Commission is also considering the question and has not yet given feedback on the matter.

Three interviews with architects were held on May 7 and three more were scheduled for May 10 to consider designs for the fire station. Sundquist said that so far, all the presentations have been excellent.

Assessment questions

In regard to tax assessment, Sundquist said the Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) assessed the town's value, which it uses in December to set tax rates, at $1,046,000,000. When utilities are included, the figure comes to $1,049,257,000. That number is used in the setting of county and school rates.

After brief discussion, the board agreed with the DRA's request for Tuftonboro's involvement in the production of a state-wide mosaic parcel map which the department is undertaking with assistance from the University of New Hampshire. The intent is to streamline disaster relief response and identify state land and would involve sharing parcel maps and assessment data bases.

Sundquist said that the DRA would provide a web portal for the town's use to help in its validation of data and would provide a view of historical data and topology.

Selectman Bill Stockman noted that errors could happen with the state's data, too, and warned, "We need to watch because we're responsible." Stockman noted that selectmen serve as assessors in many towns throughout the state, and responded to the query with his opinion that, "The DRA is taking assessing away from us. We're becoming one entity, and [there will be] one state assessment pretty soon."

Nevertheless, Stockman grudgingly approved the request, saying, "Disagreeing won't gain anything, but we'll be assessed by Washington before long."

Sundquist commented, "It's a good idea in this day and age," and all three agreed to share the town's data, which the DRA says will be kept confidential.

Other business

Road Agent Jim Bean reported that his crew has finished sweeping the roads and has been filling in sink holes and upgrading edges along the wharf road. They removed a sofa which someone had dumped off on Piper Road. Nine stop signs have been replaced so far and Bean asked that with final pricing on paving in, would the selectmen like to include the town hall and library parking areas.

Stockman said that he would like to improve the layout at the town hall first, possibly adding 20 spaces for cars. He said that he thinks that gravel and fill work need to be done, leaving paving for a later date. "I'm not sure we have to pave the whole thing," he added.

Codes Officer Jack Parsons commented, too, that Bean needs to redo the lines at the Town Offices building and one parking space needs to be widened in compliance with Americans with Disability Act regulations.

Parsons reported that he attended a grant seminar on the process involved in the town's acquisition of a pellet-fired central heating system and found that since the building is over 50 years old, the historic district needs to be consulted. The selectmen decided to chose a company to do the job with an RFP process rather than sealed bid, which would automatically go to the lowest bidder.

The transfer station has received its pallet scale. It now has a door on the SWAP shop, which is helping to reduce disposal costs.

In new business, Sundquist reported that the selectmen now have e-mail addresses for town business. Residents can send communications to any or all of them by using name@tuftonboro.org. The first name and last name must be typed in full with a period between them: e.g., carolyn.sundquist@tuftonboro.org.

The next selectmen's meeting is scheduled for May 24 at 7 p.m. at the town offices.

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