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Tuftonboro selectman criticized for alleged Town Meeting gesture


April 05, 2012
TUFTONBORO — The first meeting of the Tuftonboro Board of Selectmen on March 26, following town meeting, marked a time of transition. Lloyd Wood became the newest selectman, moving into the place vacated by Bill Stockman, and Selectman Dan Duffy was elected chairman of the board.

Duffy offered appreciation to Stockman for his 12 years of service and his personal thanks for "his help tutoring me over the years. I have a tendency to get my hair on fire and he would throw water on it." His ability to stay calm was promptly put to the test.

Following a discussion among board members and Fire Chief Adam Thompson as to the next steps in moving the building project forward, Arthur Joubert read aloud from a personal letter prepared for the selectmen.

Joubert claimed that Duffy had made a dismissive gesture during Town Meeting following comments from Barry Ennis, who expressed disapproval of the location for the proposed fire station. Joubert described it as a hand movement that indicated, "Go away, as if he was telling a child, 'Go away! You're bothering me.' " Joubert said he was "appalled," termed the alleged gesture to be "disrespectful" and requested Duffy's resignation. He declared, " I don't feel as if he has my interests in mind."

Duffy declined to resign. "What did I do?" asked Duffy. "Is it on the tape? If it is, we can see it."

Joubert answered only that it was "blatant and obvious" and went on to say that what he wanted to say at the meeting, if he hadn't been deterred by the undefined hand gesture, was that he would like the selectmen to consider including public access and parking with a second curb cut.

He referred to the amendment proposed by Eric Roseen at Town Meeting asking that the project include a guarantee by the state for an additional access for future activities on the 80-acre site. That amendment did not pass following a warning from construction manager Andre Kloetz that additional work could take away money from the project budget and the opinion offered by committee member Dick Cary that there would not be a problem in the future in obtaining a permit for a second curb cut from the state since there will be 600 feet of frontage remaining.

Joubert asked that the selectmen reconsider that request.

Next up was Jerry Holmberg, who wanted the board to consider a design/build plan based on the North Hampton fire station recently built by Ricci construction. Selectmen objected to the idea of switching from the construction management plan that voters approved to at Town Meeting and were loath to consider a new plan when residents had voted with the current plan, which had been presented at several informational meetings.

Holmberg insisted that the town had no final plan, so the board could consider his option. "I don't think the town is getting a good value for its dollars," he said, adding "It's $350,000 too high and there are defects in the engineering."

Committee member Bob McWhirter pointed out that the schematic drawing has been approved and said, "We have to follow it."

Selectman Carolyn Sundquist said that there might be some minor changes to the plan, but otherwise, the plan would be adhered to as presented in meetings, newspaper articles, and Budget Committee hearings.

"You people are doing a disservice to the town. You're overspending and the building is insufficient," said Holmberg emphatically. He then stood up and abruptly left the meeting.

"The warrant merely says that the selectmen are authorized to build a station and spend the money. You have flexibility," argued Guy Pike.

"We're not going to change horses in mid-stream," answered Duffy.

Wood interjected that the board has been carefully following each recommended phase involved in such a project and said,"We all know what what we need. The public has spoken." He referred to state home rule powers that say that if a town changes course after the vote, the warrant would be deemed invalid.

Chairman of the Building Committee Jim Allan joined the discussion. "We took Holmberg's suggestions into consideration," he said, "and found that there were fewer variables with the construction management approach. We don't know that it will end up costing $350,000 more.

"I met with Jerry extensively. We listened and we looked at and considered the other facility and incorporated some of the ideas into the plan."

Allan pointed out that the Ricci Construction proposal estimate was lower because "they took everything we had estimated and took out the all the contingency funds. That's a pretty simple way to come under in price."

Local contractors do not have to put up a bond with the construction management plan. The Bauen Company does that. Contractors placing bids for the design/build construction plan would have to also put up individual bonds, thus adding to their costs.

"How's your blood pressure, Dan?" inquired Wood, reaching over to touch his arm, before discussion turned to financing options. Duffy smiled and shook his head. This wasn't the way he expected his first meeting as chairman to go, but having started the meeting with the admission that he has a "tendency to get [his] hair on fire," he had managed to keep it from smoldering.

The discussion shifted to the matter of financing options, with a presentation of numbers from Susan Hunt of Northway Bank. John Widmer, Tuftonboro representative and Chairman of the Governor Wentworth Regional School Board, which is concluding a massive building project, offered suggestions to the board.

The board voted at its subsequent meeting on April 2, following a work session on Friday, March 30, that it intends to sign a contract with architect Gary Goudreau and Bauen Corporation that incorporates suggestions made by Town Counsel Rick Sager.

The construction loan from Northway Bank is based on a 15-year term at a 2.49 percent interest rate. In 2013, the town will pay $13,000 in interest and make a principal payment of $150,000. Widmer called it " a tremendous opportunity," and noted that the principal payment in the first year will save on interest costs over the course of the loan.

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