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Ossipee selectmen vote to accept Merrow's land donation



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OSSIPEE POLICE CHIEF DONALD GROW urged selectmen on Monday night to approve the town’s recreation department request to purchase new equipment to expand the skateboard park at Ossipee Town Hall. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
December 22, 2011
OSSIPEE — Selectmen here voted Monday night, Dec. 19, that land previously donated to the town by Selectmen Harry Merrow has been officially accepted.

Merrow had donated land along the Beech River in the area of Annie Nichols Road to the town earlier this year to add to the list of properties overseen by the town's Conservation Commission. The land was deeded to the town but it was then discovered that the proper process had not been followed. Selectmen were required to get input on the land transfer from the Conservation Commission and the planning board plus hold two hearings for public input. All of those steps have now been taken and in a 2-0 vote the land has now been lawfully transferred. Merrow abstained from Monday night's vote due to the obvious conflict of interest.

In other selectmen's meeting news, Dr. Michael Glick, property owner at the top of the Class VI Marble Road came in to publicly thank the town's selectmen and public works department for their work building a new bridge to replace the one washed away by Tropical Storm Irene and repairing the road. He also asked the board to consider moving a large boulder in the river that is causing the water flow to divert towards the road and could create costly damage in the future.

Selectmen continued work on the proposed 2012 budget recommendations they will make to the budget committee. At their last meeting they had voted down a $5,000 request from the non-profit LifeBridge, a mentoring program based in Wolfeboro stating they just didn't have enough information about what the program does to take a vote in support of the program. This week, after learning that the program that mentors students in both the middle and high school, is supported by the principals and the superintendent in the school district and currently serves 15 Ossipee students and devoted 1,400 hours to Ossipee students in 2011, they voted in favor of supporting the $5,000 budget request.

Selectmen also approved the long term debt budget. Merrow pointed out that when he took office 13 years ago the town had a considerable amount of long term debt. One of his main goals was to eliminate the long list of debt, a goal that has almost been met. Rather than borrowing money, voters have been opting instead to make major purchases in recent years, including $175,000 approved to be taken from the town's surplus to pay for a new truck for the highway department this year. Upon approval of the 2012 budget, final payments on police cruisers and the town's required match of the Whittier Covered Bridge grant will be paid in full, leaving the town's long term debt balance at zero.

There is a chance that the voters may be asked to borrow money to match a federal grant for phase two of the Whittier Covered Bridge project. The projected budget for this phase of the project is still being worked on. The bridge has been lifted off its abutments and placed on the ground next to the Bearcamp River so repairs could be made to it. Phase two will include raising the abutments and reinstalling the bridge.

On Monday night selectmen approved Ossipee Recreation Director Peter Waugh's request to purchase new equipment to expand the skate park located at the Town Hall. Ossipee Police Chief Donald Grow spoke in support of Waugh's request, saying the money would be well spent. He said since the skate park was installed he has noticed a decrease in the number of teens skateboarding on the roads in town and on others' property. Currently, the skate park is being used for the winter as the town's ice skating rink with the new equipment expected to be installed in the spring.

In other recreation department news, selectmen announced that Chris Seamans, who was hired earlier this year as a part-time employee whose time was split between the recreation and public works department has been promoted to a full-time position with the town's highway department. Seamans will be taking the full-time position being vacated by longtime town employee, Bruce Williams, who is retiring in January. Selectmen anticipate they will be advertising to hire a new part-time employee in early 2012.

Garnett Hill
Martin Lord Osman
Garnett Hill
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