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Wolfeboro Town Hall Advisory Committee reports to selectmen

Group gets approval to develop detailed plan

May 27, 2010
WOLFEBORO — The newly-formed Town Hall Advisory Committee gave its first report to the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen last Wednesday, May 19. A conceptual renovation plan was presented and selectmen gave unanimous approval to fill in the details.

The committee was only appointed on April 21, but, as Chair Joyce Davis reported, it has already held three meetings where earlier space need assessments were reviewed and discussed and the two previous renovation plans were analyzed (the McGinley Kalsow plan rejected by voters in 2008 and the reduced scope plan prepared for the Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall by architect John Grosvenor last fall). The Grosvenor plan was reviewed floor by floor and department by department.

"We have met with all department heads working in Brewster Memorial Hall as well as some of their staff to show them the current conceptual plans and invite their comments," Davis said in a prepared statement. "It is the consensus of the Town Hall Advisory Committee that with renovation, Brewster Memorial Hall offers ample space to meet the needs of Town Offices now and into the future. The Committee endorses the concept of a public-private partnership for the building's renovation. In particular, restoration of auditorium space would be the target of a private effort led by the Friends of Town Hall."

Davis concluded her remarks by making two requests of the Board of Selectmen: 1) that selectmen give approval for the committee to continue to work on refining the working plan to a level needed to develop a professional cost estimate for doing the proposed renovations; and 2) that selectmen approve the committee meeting with the town Energy Committee "to discuss strategies for maximizing energy efficiency in the building."

Committee member Richard O'Donnell then reviewed four sets of schematic plans, one each for the first, second and third floors (including the Annex where relevant) and one for the basement.

He pointed out that most of the employees will remain on the first floor of the main building. Instead of using the basements for working spaces, as in the McGinley Kalsow plan, the revised plan will make use of the east end of the second floor, creating a third level for offices at that end. The second and third levels will be accessed by stairway and through an elevator to be installed in the annex.

Although there will be an entrance into a lobby from South Main Street that will give access to the Town Clerk and Tax Collector/utility payments area, O'Donnell said the most frequently-used entrance will be from the parking lot in the back into the area now occupied by the planning department. That area will be made level with parking lot and include a lobby for the elevator, thus allowing direct wheelchair access to all floors, including the main floor of the Annex, which will be converted into a public meeting area in what was once the public library. Lockable doors will keep the office area separate when meetings are held in the evenings.

The current five levels on the first floor of the main building will be reduced to two, with the break where the current meeting room meets the Tax Collector/utility bill payment area. A ramp will make the two levels wheelchair accessible. The McGinley Kalsow plan had called for making the first floor all one level and removing some interior walls at great expense. In the revised plan the interior walls are retained and the change to two levels simplifies the design and reduces the renovation cost.

There will be bathrooms on all three floors and all will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The intention of the plan is to make the building fully ADA-compliant.

The upper two levels will include six offices for the planning and public works department currently in the Annex, plus workstation areas. There will be an employee break room on the second floor.

The basement at the east end of the main building and in the full Annex will be available for storage, in addition to providing space for heating equipment and utilities.

The key element on the second floor will be a 200-seat auditorium, the renovation of which is proposed to be funded through private sources. O'Donnell pointed out that the core infrastructure in the building, including the elevator and system upgrades, would have to be part of the main renovation funded by taxpayers. The auditorium would be accessed from the existing stairway in the clock tower as well as through the public elevator and a connecting hallway.

After listening to O'Donnell's presentation there was only one comment: Selectman Marge Webster asked that one of the bathrooms contain a shower.

The board voted unanimously (5-0) to allow the committee to continue developing the proposal to the point where it could be bid and to work with the Energy Committee on increasing the building's energy efficiency.

Selectman Chair Linda Murray said she feel the town should look into digital storage to reduce the need for storage space. Town Manager Dave Owen said he had a good experience in another town where an archivist was hired to evaluate and organize files prior to moving or digitizing them, and that "dramatically reduced" the material that needed to be stored. The board agreed that Owen should look into digital storage options.

Other business

During pubic comment resident Wayne Kelloway made a presentation on his concerns about renovation work being done on the former 12-unit Boulderbrook Cabins at 64 Oakwood Rd. by owner Richard Totaro. He asked that Totaro be required to undergo Site Plan Review rather than be allowed to continue what Kelloway sees as a piecemeal major development. Murray asked Town Planner Rob Houseman to look into the matter. Selectman Sarah Silk noted that department heads are investigating Kelloway's complaints.

Selectmen accepted Public Works Director Dave Ford's recommendation for a reduced fee for water and sewer connections for the Harriman Hill project, based on the fact that the infrastructure and hookups normally installed by the town will be done as part of the project. The projected cost based on $6.67 of permitted gallons per day under the proposed arrangement would be $306,153. At Silk's recommendation the board approved the concept but specified that the rate applied would be the one in effect when the actual connections are made, rather than fixed at $6.67.

The board reviewed the first building assessment under Article 18, "Public Buildings Evaluation and Capital Assets Management Plan" approved by voters in March. The assessment of the Public Safety Building by Bergeron Technical Services pointed out numerous code and other problems. Murray pointed out that many of the problems had been identified in a 2003 study. DPW's Ford urged selectmen to wait for feedback from the fire and police and the final report before deciding what actions need to be taken. He also said that some problems will be taken care of in work scheduled for this year.

The next meeting of the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen will be next Wednesday, June 2, at 6:30 p.m. at the public library meeting room.

Klumb Environmenta;
Varney Smith
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