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Selectmen react to criticism of Brewster Hall "politics"


September 29, 2011
WOLFEBORO — Two Wolfeboro selectmen felt it necessary to clarify their positions concerning the renovation of Brewster Memorial Hall during the Sept. 21 meeting of the board last Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Selectman Linda Murray read a prepared statement in the "Other Business" section of the meeting, toward the end, as follows:

"As you all are very aware, there have been many articles in the Granite State News and comments made at the Board of Selectmen's meetings questioning the Board of Selectmen's approach to addressing Town Offices.

"I would like to give my point of view.

"The Selectmen are not elected by a party system.

"A Selectman is elected based on one's answers to questions proposed by the Granite State News, questions asked at Candidate's Night and casual conversations with citizens at the supermarket, post office or other place in town.

"I feel it is important for a selectman to explain to the citizen of Wolfeboro his or her reasons and analysis for supporting a particular solution to a Town issue.

"I see this as being open and straight-forward with the public – not as politicking.

"Right now I have not decided on a Town Office proposal.

"I am still in the process of gathering information on possible solutions to the Town Office space issue. I am reviewing all proposals presented to the BOS and evaluating each of them. I will review my past studies and committee reports, whether from a public or private group and past votes on Town Office space warrant articles. I am collecting information on the county and school district construction projects to see what possible impact they may have on the 2011 tax rate. I will review proposed CIP projects for 2012. Then I will read and review information on the economy, interest rates and building costs. Based on citizens' comments tome , my review, evaluation and analysis I will decide which Town Office space solution seems best to me.

"When the Board of Selectmen discusses the possible proposals for Town Offices, I will provide to the public and to my fellow Board members my analysis and evaluation of each proposal. Only after discussing the different proposals with my fellow Board members and listening to any new comments from the public will I then be ready to decide on a proposal for Town Offices for the 2012 warrant.

"I do not see this approach as using 'brute force.'

"But instead I see it as taking the time to do the needed analysis so the best possible solution can be presented to the voters."

Bowers responds

In the second public input section of the meeting Suzanne Ryan said she was glad to see Linda Murray address her position on Brewster Memorial Hall.

Addressing Selectman Dave Bowers, the newest member of the board, she said she had a "bare bones" approach to show him. "In 2008," she said, "we had a re-use committee that didn't get it's day in the sun." She said she was annoyed at a Granite State News editorial urging people to solicit outside offers for the building. She claimed that there was an offer in 2008 that went up to the Board of Selectmen and died. "There was credible interest in the building, but it was not pursed," she said. The object of the re-use committee was to look at all possible options, and there were four. At that time the value of the building was $500,000, and the board was urged to appoint a separate committee on selling the building but did not.

Ryan asserted that if a private developer were to get the building there are tax credits available that are not available to the town or the Friends of Town Hall – only to developers for historic rehabilitations.

Bowers responded that he will read what Ryan provides. "I am open to anything. If, say, Suzanne Ryan had a commercial developer in hand, I would consider a firm proposal. Just the idea is not enough."

Right now, Bowers said, the board is studying phasing, "one thing at a time. All input is welcome," he said, noting that any potential buyer would have to have board approval to view the building.

AJ Coleman
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Varney Smith
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