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Joyce Endee

Wolfeboro selectmen postpone Pop Whalen upgrade project

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
January 12, 2012
WOLFEBORO — At their first meeting of 2012 last Wednesday, Jan. 4, Wolfeboro selectmen responded to budget committee criticisms by dropping one 2012 capital project and modifying the wording of another.

Selectman Dave Senecal began the review of warrant articles by proposing that selectmen withdraw Article G: "Insulation and Dehumidification System at Pop Whalen Arena for $275,000," due to concerns raised at the last budget committee meeting on Dec. 28. At that meeting Committee Chair John MacDonald began the discussion by recommending that the project be put off for a couple of years, noting the town has spent a lot of money over the past several years on the facility. Another issue raised was the fact that only one of three bids had been received so far. After some discussion, the committee voted 5-3 not to recommend the warrant article. In addition to Senecal, Selectman Chair Sarah Silk and Selectman Linda Murray had been present at the meeting.

Parks and Recreation Director Ethan Hipple said he had had a discussion with Senecal and Town Manager Dave Owen on the project. While he said he felt it was an important project that would address many issues at the arena, including corrosion and condensation, and thus extend the building's life, he agreed that the proposal at this point was "not ready for prime time." He said the project needs professional assessment of what are the best investments to make to extend the life of the building. He added that he just got the remaining bids that day and both were too high. Hipple had stated at an earlier meeting that if the cost exceeded $275,000 it would have an unacceptable impact on the fees charged to use the arena. All of the cost of any improvements to Pop Whalen Ice Arena have to be paid through fees charged: no improvements are funded by taxpayers.

Murray gave her opinion that this may be the kind of project that needs to be phased.

The board voted unanimously 4-0 to withdraw the article from the March warrant (Selectman Chuck Storm was not present).

The budget committee also reduced the operating budget by $61,103 for a principal and interest payment on a sewer bond that was not due in 2012. Selectmen approved this change as well as the necessary reduction in the default budget to $25,129,436.2

Owen passed out an analysis of the proposed 2012 budget comparing it to proposed budgets from 2007 to the present. The proposed increases of 0.33 percent to the operating budget and 2.32 percent to the general fund budget is the lowest in the period. The highest operating budget increase in the period was 25.38 percent in 2009, and the highest general fund increase was 6.3 percent in 2007.

Albee Beach Bath House

The second article not recommended by the budget committee was Article I: "Construct Bath House at Albee Beach for $125,000." The committee voted 7-1 not to recommend based on article language specifying that the project was "in partnership with the Region 9 Vocational Technical Education Center." According to draft minutes of the meeting, MacDonald asked "why there is no opportunity for a local contractor to bid on the project. He stated that by having the language in the warrant article provides for no opportunity for others to bid and he feels that is not fair."

Hipple provided a cost estimate with two options, $125,510 if Region 9 Voc-Tech did the work and $154,693 if an outside contractor was used.

Senecal felt if the language in the article were changed to remove any reference to Region 9, the budget committee would change its vote and recommend.

The board then voted unanimously to remove the reference to Region 9.

In other warrant article discussions, Owen said the state loan forgiveness on the water meter project was $175,000, not $100,000 as originally presented. The board agreed to make the change, which reduces the cost of replacing water meters to water users: no taxpayer funds will be used for this project.

Owen also noted that he is getting more backup quotes for Article J: "Town Hall Repairs and Improvements."

The board then agreed on who would present each article during the presentation to be taped by Wolfeboro Community Television on Tuesday, Jan. 17, from 12:30 to 6 p.m. at the Wolfeboro Public Library meeting room.

Taxi proposal

Thomas Bryant and Paul Amadio came before the board to propose starting a taxi business in Wolfeboro. Amadio said that they felt there was a need for both taxi and courier services in town. The service would provide camp pickup and drop off services, shuttle to the airport and parcel delivery services.

Silk asked if the handicapped will be accommodated. Amadio said that they would transport people with portable, foldable wheelchairs. There will be one taxi to start and the hours would be noon to late evening plus other times by request.

Owen asked whether a dedicated taxi stand would be needed. Amadio said "possibly." Bryant noted that to start the taxi would be parked at his store, Made on Earth.

Selectman Dave Bowers suggested they approach restaurants to offer a "designated driver" service when needed.

The board's consensus was that all the applicants needed to do was apply for a license through Owen.

Other business

Following two public hearings at the last two selectmen's meetings, the board voted unanimously to accept the deeds to the Pine Hill Cemetery contingent upon receiving the maintenance endowment held by the current trustees and one last titles check with the Registry of Deeds. The funds are currently tied up in a mutual fund that will take time to liquidate.

The board also approved and signed quitclaim deeds to two properties on Forest Road located opposite Carry Beach. The deeds convey the land to abutters, who paid for half the public notice fees plus $1 each. The board voted last year to put the two parcels back on the tax rolls but the paperwork was not done until now.

Selectmen approved temporary event permits to allow Wednesday evening concerts by the Cate Park Band at the bandstand and Saturday evening concerts sponsored by the Friends of the Wolfeboro Community Bandstand this summer. It will be the 21st year for the Cate Park Band concerts and the 18th for the Saturday evening concert series. Spokesman Doug Cady remarked that the audiences at both events are very neat, leaving little to be cleaned up afterward.

The board adopted at policy on retention of the recording secretary's meeting tapes that allows the tapes to be reused once the minutes of the meeting recorded are approved by the board of selectmen.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
Garnett HIll
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