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Moultonboro forms committee to look at town spaces

August 04, 2010
MOULTONBORO — A blue ribbon commission will be formed to discuss community services and space needs in the town, including ball fields and a possible community center.

On Thursday, Town Administrator Carter Terenzini presented the concept and charge to the Board of Selectmen. The committee is meant to take another look at community services and space that has been at the heart of a long and heated debate about the formation of a community center and construction of new ball fields.

According to the charge, the committee's purpose is to review and assess the need for and provision of services by the Community Services Team, including human, health, senior, and recreation needs, and related need for provision of facilities and relate to the recommendations of the Master Plan update.

Terenzini said the need for assessing facilities falls within eight recommendations from the master plan related to the use and expansion of facilities, the needs of the recreation, health, and senior programs, and partnerships with the schools and between public and private groups.

According to the charge, the commission will consist of five people.

"The persons shall be known to us to be persons of open minded fairness possessing high analytical, listening, and writing skills, and a proven ability to keep a rigid timetable, and acknowledge, but without a strong identification as proponents or opponents of any particular point of view, in this area of investigation," the charge states.

The members will be chosen by a majority vote of the Board of Selectmen and shall serve until the dissolution of the commission.

Among their duties, the commission will receive briefings from the selectmen and town planner and receive reports from the school district on projected enrollment and space. They will then review previous reports assessing the current and needed service delivery systems such as the Senior Needs Study and the Recreation Strategic Plan as well as learn about town services and departments that would relate to their study. They will also catalogue town facilities and existing private facilities in addition to other duties.

At the end of their research, the commission will give a report to the Board of Selectmen that includes prioritizing service delivery needs and addressing the feasibility of using town and school facilities for space as well as cataloging properties within a half-mile radius of the municipal complex for suitability of meeting needs. It will also establish a timeline for developing facilities to meet those needs.

The charge carries a goal date for the board to receive the report no later than Jan. 1, 2011.

Terenzini said this discussion would not be limited to the use of the Lions Club property.

Selectman Ed Charest said in the nearly three years since the issue was first discussed, other developments and topics have come up.

"I like this idea of starting something different and let's take a look at everything," Charest said.

Board Chair Joel Mudgett and Selectman James Gray voiced concern about finding five people who do not have an opinion on the issue, and Charest said he would like to see five people known not to have bias.

Terenzini said the candidates could have an opinion either way but should not be affiliated as being an advocate for one side or the other. Terenzini said the commission would ideally consist of "five Solomon's" who could take time to discuss the topic from all sides and be able to manage any criticism.

"I agree it's time to stop talking and look at this with another set of eyes," Gray said.

"It would require a good faith time-out by everyone on this issue," Terenzini said.

Terenzini said the board should help choose the members of the committee. Selectman Karel Crawford said the board should choose people who are known in town and respected.

"Everyone has an opinion and opinions can be changed," Crawford said.

Resident Al Hume recommended that the workings and processes of the commission be open to the public. Mudgett said it would be like the selectmen's work sessions where people can attend but with limited public input. Mudgett said he wanted to avoid a situation where public input rather than committee work took up most of a meeting.

Resident Nancy Wright said the previous community center discussion had public listening sessions, though it felt like the plan had already been put in place without public input.

"I feel that people never really had the input to begin with as to what we'd like to see," Wright said. "I feel the public has been left out of this whole process."

Wright said she hopes the public is invited to the meetings and has more input. Mudgett said that is the reason why a committee is being together to look at the issue.

"To a certain extent you have to limit public input," Mudgett said.

Resident Joe Quaresima said the town should take a time-out from the entire issue and not do anything now. Resident Hollis Austin said the process needs to be form following function.

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously in favor of the committee's formation.

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