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Presentation of final plans for Brewster Hall tonight at library


Latest plans for Brewster Hall include energy efficiency improvements


February 24, 2011
WOLFEBORO — There will be a complete presentation on final plans for the rehabilitation of Brewster Memorial Hall this evening at 7 p.m. at the Wolfeboro Public Library meeting room.

Voters will be able to see exactly what is included in the project, its cost and property tax impact over the 20 years of the proposed bond. The presentation will clarify how much of the project is building rehabilitation and how much is devoted to town offices.

Most of the discussion and controversy over town office space needs in the past few years has ignored the fact that renovation of the iconic, but sorely neglected, Brewster Memorial Hall is not just about office space.

According to an analysis of costs by Town Planner Rob Houseman, most of the $4 million price tag for the Romanesque structure's rehabilitation will go toward an enduring reconstruction that will expand its use and establish the 120 year-old building's presence for another 100 years.

An estimated $1.2 million of the total close to the price of various office space proposals that have come and gone is dedicated to the operation of town government. This addresses the point made by the Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall that no matter how creative the proposal for town offices, the fact remains that the town owns the historic building and is responsible for its care.

Warrant Article 12 represents a single plan to address governmental space needs and make space that has been previously underused and in some areas, unused, available and accessible for community groups and activities.

The latest step in the project, a study by the firm Building Science Corporation of how to assure increased energy efficiency, has resulted in modifications to the design. "I'm extremely confident that it will be as energy efficient as we can make it," said David Ford, Public Works Director.

Town Planner Houseman explained at the Deliberative Session that while some of the changes may add to the cost, presently estimated at $3.7 million, including contingencies, he is confident that the $4 million asked for in Article 12 is "more than adequate." In the long run, the town will benefit from increased energy savings.

The heating and cooling system, for instance, will utilize energy efficient heat pumps for most of the year, but when winter temperatures plunge, an oil burner will take on the job of providing heat for those inside. And since there is less need for hot water in an office building than a residence, there will be hot water units at the points where they are most needed, such as the bathrooms, rather than an unnecessarily extensive system.

In another instance of improved efficiency, Houseman notes that the type of spray foam recommended by Building Science not only has a higher "R" value, but is one third the cost of that previously included in the plan.

The addition of storm windows on the inside of the large windows will not only serve to reduce energy costs but will eliminate condensation, thus curtailing water damage.

Houseman, who now has to book meetings at the Wolfeboro Public Library a year in advance and has had to occasionally cancel business meetings when no space is available is excited about the potential for increased meeting space on site, function rooms, and of course, increased storage capacity and a more comfortable work space for employees, all in a building accessible to those with disabilities and up to code.

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