"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Final 2018-2023 CIPC Plan: Total Proposed 48% Higher then 2017

One of the purposes of the Capital Improvements Program Committee is to level out capital spending so as to avoid as much as possible, large spikes in capital  spending from one year to the next.
While the 2018 proposed plan ( here is the plan on the Town website) includes funding from a number of offsets such as Capital Reserve Accounts, general fund balance and grants ( proposed for 2018 it's approximately $1.8 million), the actual spending requested is a whopping $3,421,966, about $1.6 million more then 2017.
In terms of tax levy, the increase is about 35%, $1,742,000 in 2018 vs. $1,135,000 in 2017.

A little perspective is needed though as I scanned through the report. An important consideration is the word "if." There is $670,000 proposed for sidewalks in the village if they are constructed.  I suspect that it will be placed on the warrant by the BoS for an up or down vote at Town Meeting.
Hopefully attendees will  have a chance to debate the pro's and con's and not rush a motion to " call the vote."
Good. I support sidewalks, but I think that the creation of an access route through the Taylor property could significantly reduce the amount of $ needed. In any event, the proposed cost is not a shock as that is in the ballpark of what has been discussed many times.

However....if you re a supporter of sidewalks, inclusion on the warrant for purchase of a " sidewalk maintenance tractor" for $185,000 is not the way to sell it. Granted I did not see the specs for what is being proposed, but $185,000? We could buy four police cruisers for that money and still have money left over. That will be one tough sell.

Another concern is the amount to be drawn from the fund balance. I would support, and in fact  encouraged spending down the balance closer to the 12.5% target, but only for projects and purchases already approved to lower the subsequent years tax rate.  For example. using the fund balance to purchase police cruisers already in the budget at the end of the year using money from the fund balance,  thus avoiding that cost in the next years budget and reducing the tax rate.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Large Kona Mansion Re-Development Project Forthcoming?

The potential new owners of the Kona Mansion property are proposing a fairly large re-development of the property. The proposal includes restoration of the Inn with a spa, restaurant and meeting facilities, a pool, 22 boat slips, 22 homes, restored golf course, and 150 memberships for the golf course and beach.
At the August 9th Moultonboro Planning Board meeting, a number of residents expressed concerns about the possible development, but as of that time, no formal proposals had been filed.

A pre-application review was discussed at the July 26th PB meeting. According to the minutes of tha meeting: "The project encompasses the properties of Kona, Inc. which includes the main lot which is 82 acres with Kona Mansion, with a total of 37 rooms, the golf course and several out buildings. And, another lot of 0.69 acres which includes the 390-foot pier, boat house and pump house. Mr. Anderton gave a brief history of the properties and the history of Kona Mansion, which was place of the NH State Register of Historic Places in 2010. The project is to restore the mansion, bringing the grounds back and making it viable once again. Mr. Alther stated their proposal is to subdivide twenty-two lots from the main property along Jacobs, Colby and Kona Farm Road. Their business plan includes the development of a country club type form of ownership. This will include a restaurant, bar, function facilities and a spa, along with the installation of a pool and the golf course. Each lot will have its own septic, well and curb cut. There will not be an association as all proposed lot have frontage and access to a town road. They will not be granting beach rights to each lot. They will form a club membership for each of the 22 lots, along with additional memberships available to the public (limiting the number of memberships to 100-150). Membership annual fees will include the use of such things as the beach, golf course, spa, special privileges to the restaurant. They stated that there currently are 22+/- boat slips along the 390- foot pier at the “marina” which they may either sell or rent to home owners."
As this was only a pre-application review and not a formal hearing, the PB discussed the project in generalities and expressed some concerns regarding the fact that seems to be less than 150' of water frontage and provisions in the Town's Zoning Ordinances to prevent " funnel" development.

As of July 26th, the potential new owners had a purchase and sales agreement, but the sale was not yet finalized.

Moultonboro Police Chief Wetherbee Set to Retire

Just when the Town could say they were at full staff with leadership in all departments, Police Chief Wetherbee announced to the BoS that he will be retiring when a replacement has been found. It is expected that the search/ hiring process will take 4-6 months and Chief Wetherbee has indicated to the Town Administrator that he would like to participate in the process to assure a smooth transition.

Chief Wetherbee was hired as Police Chief  in May 2012. He retired as Chief of Police of the Concord, Massachusetts Police Department in January, 2010 where he was Chief for 17 years and had a 33 year career in the department.

My interactions with him both as a citizen and as a Selectman, have always been very positive. His leadership will be missed and it will be a tough job for the BoS to find a replacement.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sad News of Passing of Phyllis Prouty

I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Phyllis Prouty as I watched yesterdays BoS meeting this evening.

Her obituary can be found here.

A memorial service celebrating Phyllis' life will be held at the Moultonborough United Methodist Church on September 23, 2017 at 2 PM. In lieu of flowers, please send donations, in Phyllis' name, to the Moultonborough Public Library, P.O. Box 150, Moultonborough, NH, 03254. 

My deepest condolences to Jordan Prouty and their family. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Capital Improvements Program Committee Public Hearing for 2018-2023 Capital Plan 5pm Wed. August 16th Town Hall

The CIPC will present its new 6 year proposed plan to the public tomorrow, Wednesday, at 5pm in Town Hall. The proposed plan is not online, but will be available at the public hearing.
If a second hearing is necessary, it will be held on August 23rd at 5pm  also at Town Hall.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Major Subdivision Planned for Lake Kanasatka Property. Town Needs to do What is Necessary to Protect the Lake

The Planning Board last Wednesday held a public hearing on a proposed 5 lot major subdivision for this shore front property ( below outlined in yellow)  across from the BP gas station. The picture below from the town GIS map

The property would be sub-divided into 5 lots. As presented on Wednesday, there are no plans for any construction on the property, only a conceptual idea as to  how the property could be used and how it could be laid out.

Early in the discussion, BoS Planning Board representative Russ Wakefield told the applicants that " we're not going to make it easy for you" presumably in regards to approving the site plan. While that may have not been the most politically correct statement to make considering all applications are to be reviewed according to their legal merits and within the requirements of our Zoning Ordinances and Site Plan Regulations, it does express how many locals feel.
Protecting Lake Kanasatka should be a priority and the Planning Board seems very attuned to that fact.
There was at first a vote denying moving the application to a public hearing because as per the Town Planner, it was not complete. Ellis argued that he provided more information and detail than required and that the intent of the Site Plan Regulations had been met. He expressed dismay that the Town Planner only provided the staff memo on the project to him that very morning and basically told him to go back to the drawing board.

After some discussion, Board member Al Hoch made a motion to reconsider the application to move to a public hearing and this time it passed.

What was presented to the Planning Board was a five lot subdivision with depictions of where homes could be located, but without any detailed plans for actual construction. The applicant is planning to sell the lots individually and it would be up to each new owner to obtain the necessary permits and site plan approvals for whatever they are planning to construct.
The depiction of the five homes on the property according to Dan Ellis of Ames Associates, was only meant to provide a possible configuration  to indicate that each lot is build-able according to our site plan regulations.
The application includes approval by NH DOT  for four proposed driveway curb cuts. That raised a great deal of angst from members of the Planning Board. They are concerned that it is a very tough area to make turns out of the BP station and Redding Lane and adding more outlets to that area would not be welcomed, especially during high traffic times.

The Planning Board is urging the applicant to develop the project in a cluster type development that  would have the least impact on the lake and minimize the new driveway accesses. The creation of an interior road that would access all five properties was also something the board would like to see.

Another major issue, was the lack of a plan for the entire property to control water runoff into the lake. The applicant did not propose a plan for the entire property because the previously stated intent is for five property owners to create individual plans if and when the parcels are sold.

The hearing was continued to September 13th on a motion by Al Hoch, so that the owner and developer can show a plan with a single interior road and a plan to control water runoff to the lake.

This will be a tough one for the Planning Board. The owners of the property do have the right to achieve the full value of their property. Whether a cluster development will devalue what they could sell the lots for is debatable, but our current land use regulations and ordinances do not prevent what is being proposed.

That being said, what is in the best interest of the town? I am certain the traffic and access issues can be resolved or at least mitigated to the boards satisfaction.
 More concerning is the lack of a plan to protect the lake. I believe that a plan for the entire property ( a holistic plan as PB Chair Scott Bartlett called it)  in terms of water runoff should be required for approval. The lots when sold should then be required to follow these plans and construct their buildings to be in compliance.
The town cannot prevent development, nor should they, if the applicant follows the regulations, but the town can certainly draw a line in the sand and make this and future applicants aware that our priority is to protect our natural resources and as Russ Wakefield stated, we're not going to make it easy for you.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Its Time to Hire a Marketing Firm

One of the topics of discussion at Tuesday's joint School Board- BoS meeting was an update on efforts to develop a marketing strategy for Moultonboro.
There wasn't much progress made and the discussion did not really point to any tangible next steps. It did once again raise the question still to be answered, which is: what do we want?
The changing and aging demographics in New Hampshire and especially Moultonboro, create  unique challenges to the towns ability to attract younger families.

School board member Jon Tolman noted that if we do nothing, the demographics will drive the change and will reach crisis point. We like our summer residents and retirees,  but need working families to keep the schools viable.  Summer people need services and amenities, older residents need medical and eldercare services  and the younger demographics is the hardest to attract and keep. The lake will continue to bring summer residents and retirees.

Two areas where Moultonboro has some significant advantages are the low tax rate and an excellent school system. Both area are good selling points.
BoS Chair Chris Shipp restated the point Town Administrator Walter Johnson made a few months back that we can either be in the drivers seat and be proactive or sit in the passenger seat and let things go where they may. He was clear in reiterating that no one is proposing major changes to the town, but if we do nothing, change will happen anyway, some of which may not be welcome.

A few key topics in this discussion should be highlighted and some focused time and attention placed on them by professional marketers ,may help move this forward in a meaningful manner.
At the top of the list is to raise awareness. Many people have never even heard of Moultonboro. Get the word out about who we are, where we are and what we have to offer.

Why would younger people want to move here? Number one is by far is our school system. People I talk to would gladly sacrifice and make a longer work commute if it meant that their kids can get a quality education and live in a low crime, safe town. I don't and never have bought the argument that good jobs need to be right here in Moultonboro. If you draw a circle around our town and extend it out to about 50-60 miles, you will find there are many fairly easy commutes. It is not the exception today to travel a bit to get to your job, it is the norm.
Number two is close behind and that is a tax rate that is phenomenally low. You can afford  more  house in Moultonboro  than just about anywhere else when you factor in how much less your tax bill will be.

Lastly, we need real data. How many people move in or out, how old, are they year round, family size, reason they moved in or out, where do they work etc.. It can be a fairly long list, but without it, we can sit around and continue to guess as to why things are the way they are.

The goal of all this at the end of the day, is to be able to maintain a balance. We will be mostly older for awhile, but that will change. We need to take some positive steps to attract and bring in some younger, year round families that will help keep our population stable. That is what I think most people mean when they say, we don't want Moultonboro to change. We also have to put aside the negative thinking from some of our elected officials or making positive change will be very, very difficult.

What should the next steps be? Hire a marketing firm and get the ball rolling. It's past time. No excuses about defining what we want to be. I don't think the answer will be much different then what I outlined above.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"Our citizens are dying. We say to the president, you must declare an emergency," NJ Gov. Christie , Head of Presidents Bipartisan Opioid Commission

Despite this strong recommendation by the President's bipartisan opioid commission, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price announced  that President Donald Trump has no immediate plans to declare the nation's opioid epidemic a public health emergency.
The commission draft report  said 142 Americans die from drug overdoses every day -- a toll "equal to September 11th every three weeks."

Your declaration would empower your cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the Executive Branch even further to deal with this loss of life” per the commission report. 
Despite this, President Trump stressed border protection and increased law enforcement to combat the epidemic. He also stressed abstinence: If they do start, it’s awfully tough to get off, so if we can keep them from going on and maybe by talking to youth and telling them: No good, really bad for you in every way, but if they don’t start, it will never be a problem.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said that "We believe at this point that the resources that we need or focus that we need to bring to bear to the opioid crisis can be addressed without the declaration of emergency." 
Keith Humphreys, an addiction specialist at Stanford University said that “Everything a public health emergency declaration would allow Trump to do he could have  done already in the past 8 months simply by working with Congress on the required legislation. But he didn't do that, indeed he worked to cut the very public health resources an emergency declaration would allow him to expand.”

There are many things that can be done to address this problem, but it will require putting aside uncompromising political ideology and replacing it with common sense and collaborations. The first step should be to recognize that this is truly a national emergency. Putting people in prison and telling young people to " just say no" are just a rehash of programs that didn't work in the past and won't work today. 

The opioid commission was bipartisan and step in the right direction and the President should not ignore it's recommendations. To do so would imply that it was formed as nothing more than a political feel good tactic. In the meantime, another 142 Americans will die today.

 The commission report stated that the emergency declaration  " ..would also awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”

Monday, August 7, 2017

20th Annual Moultonborough Pathway Fund Run/Walk Sat. Aug 12th

20th Annual Moultonborough Pathway Fund Run/Walk Saturday, August 12, 2017 

8:00am Registration
 8:45am Start 
$15.00 for Pre-Registration 
$20.00 for Day Of registration
 Cash or checks payable to Moultonborough Pathway Association 
T shirts will be given to the first 100 registered participants. 


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Editorial: How to elevate the debate

Concord Monitor
August 4th, 2017

From time to time in this space, we lament the state of the national dialogue. There seems to be far more obfuscation than illumination these days, and complex problems are more often than not reduced to the kind of pithy one-liners that play well on social media.
Just yesterday, for example, the Washington Post reported that Donald Trump referred to New Hampshire as a “drug-infested den,” a gross mischaracterization of the state’s opioid epidemic specifically and the problem of substance misuse in general. What Trump said was bad enough, but then a lot of intelligent people spent a good chunk of their day angrily condemning a ridiculous man for making yet another ridiculous statement.
Americans should of course hold Trump accountable for the dumb things he says, but surprise and outrage no longer feel authentic. This is a man of staggering ignorance and muted conscience, which for most people would merely be an unfortunate foundation on which to build character. But when such characteristics guide the behavior of the leader of the most powerful nation in the history of the world, it is beyond chilling.
How, then, can Americans elevate crucial debates when the president himself is hell-bent on reducing them to 140-character bursts of self-stroking misanthropy?
There is no one answer, but you could do worse than start with Sam Harris’s Waking Up podcast, a collection of conversations led by Harris about politics, religion, technology, neuroscience, meditation, ethics, and on and on.
Harris also recently talked with David Brooks, a New York Times columnist and author of a wonderful book called The Road to Character, which guided the discussion. For those unfamiliar with the book, it is an exploration of the deep values that shaped the far-from-average lives of Dwight Eisenhower, Dorothy Day, Frances Perkins and others. Over the course of an hour, Brooks and Harris talk about the concepts of sin and virtue, grace and self-overcoming. They discuss humility and the ethics of honesty, about which Harris says, “One thing I’ve often recommended is the ethic of just not lying, really ever, putting dishonesty on the continuum of violence.”We should note that Harris despises Trump, but what makes him unique in that regard is that he genuinely wants to understand the people who adore him. Harris’s many Trump-supporting listeners urged him to converse with a thoughtful person who actually defends the president, namely Dilbert creator Scott Adams, and so Harris invited him on last month. For more than two hours they had what Harris called “a very civil and enjoyable conversation.” There was no winner and there were likely no conversions, but there was illumination.
For two men who have painstakingly explored the foundations of high character, they find themselves largely in agreement on Trump the man.
Harris said: “He strikes me as a distillation of everything that is wrong with the American character. This could be, in large measure, a caricature, but he has brought the caricature to life. If you take our materialism, and our ignorance about the rest of the world, and our satisfaction in our ignorance, our overconfidence, our pretension to greatness even when we’re actually being merely petty, our vanity, our sexism, boorishness, narcissism – these are the antithesis of the kind of project you articulate in (The Road to Character). . . . He is the living embodiment of a kind of American grotesque.”
Rare is the day when Donald Trump fails to offend somebody. Yesterday was New Hampshire’s turn, and who knows who it will be tomorrow – but it almost doesn’t matter. It’s long past time to treat his ignorance as a distraction rather than the main event.

To participate in an elevated debate isn’t to ignore what’s going on in the gutter; it is to recognize the gutter for what it is and avoid getting stuck.