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Voters get last look at Brewster Hall rehabilitation proposal before vote

PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR DAVE FORD answers a question during the presentation on the Brewster Memorial Hall Rehabilitation Warrant Article 12 at the Wolfeboro Public Library last Thursday, Feb. 24. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
March 03, 2011
WOLFEBORO — Town Planner Rob Houseman presented detailed plans for the rehabilitation of Brewster Memorial Hall at the Wolfeboro Public Library last Thursday evening, Feb. 24.

The update on the building proposal included technical information on a proposed energy saving heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, plans to maximize energy performance and provide a comfortable work place and a review of layouts for all three floors.

Currently the building, heated and cooled with electric space heaters, runs up a yearly $29,000 tab, according to Town Manager Dave Owen. The new system, which includes heat pumps and a boiler to be used interchangeably and point source hot water, in conjunction with an improved insulation design, promises a lower energy bill.

Houseman provided handouts to supplement his PowerPoint presentation, which included a breakdown of costs amounting to an estimated $2.7 million for building restoration and another $1 million to finish the 19,107 square feet of interior space in accordance with the architectural plans.

A single, centered front entry will bring visitors into the main lobby. Partitioned offices will offer privacy and convenience for residents doing town business. There will be ADA accessible bathrooms open to the public on the first two floors and space for meetings.

Houseman joked that when people see him going into the Wolfeboro Inn some mornings, they should know that he is destined for business meetings in a room behind the bar, not the bar. While the Inn is hospitable, having meeting space by his office in the renovated town hall will be convenient and a more efficient use of his time.

It will also take some of the pressure off the demand for the library meeting room, which he has to arrange sometimes as much as a year in advance.

A second new entrance at grade at the back of the building will accommodate people with mobility handicaps. Once inside, an elevator will be available to give visitors a lift to the second and third floors, where the Public Works offices will be situated. Employees will have a break room instead of eating at their desks.

The public will have use of an auditorium with movable seating for up to 250, to be paid for with private funds raised by the Friends of Brewster Memorial Hall. Houseman suggested that the space could be used for art exhibits, dances, and various civic functions, expanding the use of the building beyond its central purpose.

Parking on site will be adequate once the school use is stopped, said Houseman, who says he has received assurance from Governor Wentworth Regional School District Superintendent Jack Robertson that Carpenter School staff will make other parking arrangements.

Bucky Melanson questioned why there are two ramps going into the building instead of one. Houseman explained that funds provided by voters last year were put to use in meeting the order from the Department of Justice to provide handicapped access to the building.

On the matter of windows, Melanson said that he heard that the architectural single pane windows would be kept and questioned the wisdom in that for he considers them esthetically unpleasing. Houseman answered that the designs are in keeping with the style of the building and that double paned storm windows would be put in place to stem energy loss.

"Where will money come from for repairs in the future?" was Melanson's next query, sparking a conversation on the building's past and present maintenance. Houseman said that he expects that the expenses of taking care of a modernized building will be less, and admitted to embarrassment for the building's dilapidated though slowly improving state. His budget is limited to just $10,000 a year for its maintenance.

Town treasurer John Burt entered the discussion to point out that the town paid $30,000 a year rent before it purchased the building for one dollar. In his opinion, that amount should have been put in the budget annually.

In regard to financing, Houseman said that as is the case of the new Huggins Hospital and Kingswood building projects, the town plans to use construction management, explaining that a construction manager's goal is to save the town money, whereas a contractor puts a job out to bid, sets the price, and then charges for any changes. The architect the town plans to use is a long time Lake Wentworth resident.

Houseman says his goal is to have a guaranteed maximum price from the construction manager in March.

The annual payments for a property with assessed value of $100,000 would be $19 in the first year and go down to $10 in year 20. The total payment for that same property owner over the 20-year life of the bond, is $271.

A property owner with an assessed valuation of as much as $500,000, would pay a total of around $1,300 over those 20 years.

When James Cross asked for a construction time line, Houseman replied that the town will be ready to "hit the ground running" and gave July as a good target date to begin to move employees into rented office space at Huggins Hospital. The project will go forward if it meets the approval of 60 percent of those casting votes at the polls.

Voting on this building proposal, zoning amendments and election of candidates running for office will take place at All Saints Episcopal Church on March 8, from 8 a.m. through 7 p.m.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Alton School
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