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Wolfeboro selectmen set goals for 2012-13

Bids for future electricity supply mean lower rates in 2014

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News

PAVING BEGAN on a ground up and regraded Railroad Avenue in Wolfeboro on Monday, May 7 as crews from Pike Industries pushed to complete paving on that street plus Depot Square and Central Avenues before rain set in again on Tuesday. Public Works Director Dave Ford reports that his spring projects downtown are ahead of schedule and should be mostly completed before Memorial Day. The telephone pole and overhead wires are scheduled to be removed by year end. The wires will be pulled through conduits underground and the two poles on the Square will be replaced with vintage streetlights. (Thomas Beeler photo) (click for larger version)
May 10, 2012
WOLFEBORO — The Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen did their annual review of goals at their May 2 meeting, discussing and revising the seven goals set in 2011 and adding two more. Selectman Chair Linda Murray led the discussions.

Brewster Memorial Hall. The first goal concerns Town Hall: "Determine the office space needs of the Town over the next 25 years and create more efficient space by restoring and renovating Town Hall." Last year this goal was pursed by considering partial or staged plans for renovating the building, following the rejection by voters of a $4 million plan in March 2011. In the end selectmen decided to focus only on repairs aimed at health and safety issues, and voters approved a warrant article to spend $200,000 on specific repairs and improvements.

Selectman Dave Bowers asked if this goal should include formalizing the idea of inviting a private foundation to get involved with the renovation of Brewster Hall. Murray said she felt that exploring such funding options would be consistent with the goal as stated.

Municipal Assets Inventory and Management Plan. Voters rejected spending $50,000 as the first phase of developing a long-term Asset Management Plan as well as a petition for a non-funded Long Term Municipal Building Plan in March 2012. Two items written into this goal last year upgrading the town's public safety communication facilities and upgrading the Public Safety Building were removed as having been accomplished. Murray said she feels the town should continue developing data on buildings and other assets that could be used to create a future plan, but another plan will not be proposed this year.

Glendon Street Parking Lot Expansion. The town will be reconstructing the Glendon Street parking lot this summer following approval of Article 15 for $280,000 in March. The new lot will include the additional land purchased by the town in 2009. Murray said the town should look into improving the lighting in the parking lots, particularly at the end of the Bridge Falls Path near the Wolfeboro Oil tanks. Town Planner Rob Houseman said that new lighting is planned for the parking lot.

Route 28 Corridor Study. The is a town-funded survey of Route 28 from the Alton town line to Grove Street aimed at getting the rebuilding of that road back on the state's 10-year highway plan. The project was taken off the list in 2008 as a result of funding shortfalls. Much work has been done in surveying the road and holding public input sessions. There is only one of the five road sections still under study, the one that includes the junction of Routes 28 and 109 at Center Street, known as Pickering Corner, and Public Works Director Dave Ford has stated that the steering committee will tackle that section and complete the study this year.

Road Bonding. Murray admitted the idea of bonding road improvements has not generated much interest. She advocated replacing that goal with one that addressed a complaint made in the Chamber of Commerce focus group sessions that there were no public toilet facilities north of the bridge on Main Street. Murray suggested the board consider placing a handicapped-accessible portable toilet next to the pump station and upgrade to a permanent facility if usage justifies it.

Road Upgrades, Repairs and Maintenance. The town has been following a policy of rebuilding substandard roads and repaving and maintaining other roads with the aim of establishing a regular patterns of repairs and improvements that will cover all roads on a reasonable and cost-effective cycle. The annual appropriation for roads went from $400,000 in 2009 to $550,000 in 2010 and $750,000 in 2011. In 2012 selectman reduced the appropriation to $550,000. The board agreed that the overall goal is an ongoing one.

Town Facilities Plan. Like the Municipal Assets Management Plan discussed earlier, this is an ongoing process to determine what facilities are needed and which facilities need upgrades or improvements.

Added goals

In addition to these seven goals carried over from 2011, Murray proposed adding two more.

Support Upgrade of Downtown. The town has undertaken a number of projects, from renovating the railroad station to replacing sidewalks to renovating Dockside to the current Downtown Streets Project now rebuilding Central and Railroad Avenues, Deport Square and Glendon and Lehner Streets. Murray says she feels there is still a lot of work to do.

Develop an Easy-to-Use Trail Map. Wolfeboro has an extensive system of public trails with little public information on where they are, according to Murray. Houseman reported that he is working with Terri Harriman of Harriman Signs to install a wayfinding sign system based on aerial photographs, with a "You Are Here" indicator. He said they are considering a free-standing sign next to the bike racks at the railroad station and a sign flush-mounted on the stockade fence that hides the dumpster at Dockside. There will also be in place by Memorial Day directional signs to parking lots, restrooms, boat ramps and other attractions using international symbols.

Selectman Dave Senecal pointed out that there is an old ice machine that is no longer used partially blocking the entrance road to Dockside. Houseman said he would talk with Public Works Director Ford about getting it removed.

CIP Guidelines

Selectmen reviewed and revised the current Capital Improvement Program guidelines prepared by Town Planner Houseman as the first step in producing a 10-year plan for 2013-2022.

Of the nine guidelines, one focused on the second phase of public safety communication improvement was dropped because the improvements are being completed this year.

Murray proposed and the board approved changing the wording on the guideline for Town Hall from "repairing and renovating" to "repairing or renovating." Also, the guideline for planning the future re-use of the Municipal Electric Building on Lehner Street was changed to eliminate the possible use of the building for a community center.

Otherwise the only revisions were to update date reference and emphasize the plan's focus on a 10-year period.

In addition to repairing or replacing Brewster Memorial Hall andmaking use of the Lehner Street electric building, the guidelines call for the Parks and Recreation department to re-evaluate its facilities for potential changes over the next 10 years; to focus on achieving compliance with the Americans with Disabillities Act in all town facilities; to maintain the funding level on upgrading town roads; to break down large projects, like the Downtown Streets Project, into multi-year phases to spread out the cost; to exercise restraint in proposing new capital projects; and to focus on building maintenance and repairs of town facilities.

Shocking good news

Town Manager Dave Owen reported that bids for the new electricity supply contract for 2014 and onwards were opened on Tuesday, May 1. The low bidder was the town's current supplier, Constellation Energy, which bid 4.63 cents per kilowatt hour. The rate for the current contract is more than 7.8 cents per kilowatt hour.

How this will translate into user rates should be answered at the next selectmen's meeting on May 16. Mayhew Seavey, the town's energy consultant, will present his analysis of the bids and how it will affect rates at that meeting.

The final consumer rate includes, in addition to the cost of electricity, a charge for distribution expenses incurred by Wolfeboro Municipal Electric in maintaining the transformers, poles and wires that deliver the power.

The new, lower rates based on this cost decrease, will not take effect until 2014, when the current more expensive contract expires and the new contract rates are applied.

Other business

The board approved an Invitation to Bid for the removal of the former Bun McBride house and garage from the property at 255 South Main Street that was purchased May 1. Selectmen would prefer to have the structurally sound buildings removed rather than be forced to demolish them. Watch for a notice in this paper.

Owen reported that the town as landlord will be repainting Dockside Restaurant and replacing light fixtures before the season and restaurant open.

He also reported that Central and Railroad Avenues and Depot Square have had their pavements ground up and regarded. Paving of those streets plus half of Lehner Street will begin on Monday, May 7.

Selectman Sarah Silk reported that the first Household Hazardous Waste Collection of the year will be held on May 19, the third Saturday of the month. Unwanted medicines will be also collected on the third Saturdays in June and August.

Selectman Dave Senecal said that a person from Conway donated $3,000 and another person donated $500 to keep the Blue Loon bus service going to Conway after voters declined to provide the money.

Selectmen approved temporary event permits for the American Legion to hold parade on Memorial Day and Independence Day; for the Libby Museum to hold its 100th Year Celebration at its rear parking lot on July 28; for the Hospital Aid Association to hold sales at its barn on Pine Hill Road (Route 109A) Fridays and Saturdays from May 4 to June 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; for All Saints' Church to hold an ice cream social and celebration of Rev. Randy Dales, retirement on June 24 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Cate Park; for the North Medford Club to holdits 24th Annual Lake Winnipesaukee Relay Race through town on Sept. 8; and for the Abenaki Water Ski Club to hold its 32nd year of water ski tournaments on June 23, July 28, Aug. 11 and Sept. 8 from 8 a.m. to sunset.

The next meeting of the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen will be on Wednesday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Wolfeboro Public Library meeting room.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
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