Wolfeboro selectmen review election results


Resident complains about treatment after fall at Town Hall



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WOLFEBORO HISTORIAN Dave Bowers, winner of the four-way contest for a one-year term on the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen, was sworn in by Town Clerk Pat Waterman on Monday afternoon, March 14 in time for his first board meeting on March 16. (Thomas Beeler photo) (click for larger version)
March 24, 2011
WOLFEBORO — The Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen meeting of March 16 was the first for newly-elected Selectman Dave Bowers. Normally the board reorganizes at its first meeting following March elections, but with Selectman Chuck Storm in California, the board put off making any changes until its April 6 meeting.

That did not mean that Bowers had it easy his first meeting.

Suzanne Ryan came before the board during the first public comments section to complain about the poor state of the sidewalk and parking lot at Town Hall on March 1 and about how her fall on ice there on March 1 was handled. Ryan had requested a non-public session because the incident was embarrassing to her, but it was deemed inappropriate for her complaint.

Ryan said that she fell so badly on ice outside Town Manager Dave Owen's office that day that she had to go to the hospital. She said the area was still not sanded when she returned hours later. Furthermore she complained about an e-mail sent by Owen, which, after saying he was sorry for her injuries added, "Of course, if the Town Hall renovation project would have been completed already, you would not need to walk around the side of the building to get from the rear parking lot to the front of the building. So that will help eliminate that hazard for others in the future, but was not done in time to prevent your fall."

In a statement submitted to the board, Ryan described Owen's remark about the renovation as "insulting, ridiculous and unprofessional," adding that "he simply did not fathom or have a understanding of the position of liability the town was in. . . Perhaps because he knows me he felt he could be so casual with his remarks, but this is where the professional separate ones self."

Bowers asked Ryan what help she was looking for in this matter. Ryan responded that it was not for her to figure out.

Bowers asked if the staff did not do something she expected. She replied that was not the point.

Bowers asked if Ryan is OK now. Ryan said, "Not yet."

Owen explained that there is a shared responsibility for clearing snow from Town Hall, with the Department of Public Works responsible for clearing the parking lot and sidewalks and the Planning Department under Rob Houseman responsible for keeping entrances clear. He pointed out that the weather that morning was very "treacherous" not an apology, just a fact. He did not apologize for his comment about the renovation plans, since that too was a simple fact.

Selectman Sarah Silk said that the parking lot was sanded by 7:45 a.m. that day but that she did not notice whether the sidewalks had been done also.

Selectman Chair Linda Murray told Ryan the town would pay more attention to sidewalks and sanding in the future.

Election results

Murray reviewed the results of the March 8 elections and the petitioned recount of votes for Article 12 with the board. The recount did not make a difference, ending up 1,044-744 or 58.4 percent of those voting.

She reviewed the voter turnouts since 2004 and said that the 2011 turnout at 32.7 percent was the third lowest (the 2005 vote at 24.6 percent was the lowest, followed by the 2010 vote at 28.5 percent).

On the positive side she pointed out that most articles passed with large approval percentages: 88.9 percent for Article 29 (Dockside lease renewal), 87 percent for Article 20 (Upgrading town roads), 80.9 percent for Article 18 (Municipal building maintenance), 81.2 percent for Article 19 (Radio communications improvements) and 74 percent for Article 21(Operating budget). Even the close votes were not that close, with Article 22 (Reconstructing basketball and tennis courts) passing by 62.8 percent and Article 24 (Design of Pine Street and Crescent Lake Avenue improvements) drawing 63.3 percent approval.

Murray then reviewed votes on Brewster Hall since 2004, pointing out 77.6 percent approved of buying the building, 66.3 percent approved spending $500,000 on engineering studies and plans, 52.4 percent approved spending $524,000 on improvements in 2009 and, of course, 58.4 percent approved Article 12 in 2011. The low point was in 2008 when only 44.4 percent approved the $6.7 million proposal to renovate the building.

Silk said the board needs to keep working to get a safe working environment for town employees.

Owen said he met with Governor Wentworth Regional School District Superintendent Jack Robertson, who is working on a plan for alternate parking for Carpenter School employees. Contacted after the meeting, Robertson said eight to 10 Carpenter employees do park each day in the lot behind Town Hall but most park across the Main Street in the First Congregational Church lot, thanks to the generosity of the church. Robertson confirmed that he is exploring alternate spots for the eight to 10 who do park in the town lot.

Murray concluded the discussion by saying the board should make all spaces in the front of the building 15-minute only spots.

Other business

Finance Director Peter Chamberlin reviewed his monthly expenditures and revenues report for February with the board. With two months gone in the year, the expected "expended to date" percent is 16.67, while the actual total for all five town funds was 15.18 percent. The general fund, which covers main government activities, was only 12.91 percent expended. Welfare expenditures are running close to 2010 levels and need to be watched. Revenues are running positive to budget as well, Chamberlin reported.

The board approved a 2011 license for the Wolfeboro Area Farmers' Market to use Clark Park on Thursdays from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. from June 16 to Oct. 6. Sue Weeks spoke for the group and said no changes were requested from last year's license. A reported problem with dog poop will be handled by Wolfeboro Parks and Recreation installing a poop bag stand.

A boat landing permit was approved for the Millie B wooden racing boat. Owner Kathy Eaton said the boat will be ready Memorial Day weekend for weekend rides on the bay through June, then every day until Labor Day, with a return to weekend rides until Columbus Day.

The next meeting of the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen will be on Wednesday, April 6, at 6:30 p.m. at the Wolfeboro Public Library meeting room.

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