Did the Selectmen "hijack" the community center site study and turn it into a $6.5 million plan? That is the conspiratorial premise of a letter in today's Laconia Daily Sun. We did no such thing.
The story is clearly told in the minutes of the BoS September 3rd 2015 meeting:
"The Board, setting aside their personal feelings of the project, did all agree that the Town meeting has charged them with bringing back information and with respect to the various studies conducted surrounding the recreation space needs. The Selectmen agreed that the location would be adjacent to the school facility and in conjunction with the Taylor property, and that the facility would be a multi-use facility.
The Board agreed that as they look at the project that it should:
1. Be called a Community Center, as it needs to be a sense of community;
2. All-purpose Gym (11,000 sq. ft.), to allow for walking space on outer area of gym;
3. Multi-purpose rooms to accommodate specialty activities and undeveloped or unstructured activities;
4. Commercial kitchen to support and accommodate senior meals program. "
The Board felt that the remaining work with the school district’s architect needs to be completed to provide a conceptual rendition (2014 Town Meeting, $17,500). The Selectmen also said that a discussion needs to occur with the Lions Club and about the programs which utilize the facility, to better understand their needs and willingness to participate in a multi-use facility. The Board felt that once these items are complete then they could look at the fiscal impacts of a facility, and the other properties. They also stated that if any type of a facility is ever constructed it would meet all Planning, Zoning regulations and building codes"
No conspiracy, no deception, just a BoS doing it's job.The BoS approved a financial study for a recreation facility in August of 2015 just prior to that meeting on September 3rd. The purpose of the financial study was to get to an accurate cost to construct a facility and to do that required some design detail. The BoS provided the design parameters as outlined above. The financial study was completed and a warrant article crafted. We did proper due diligence. Nothing mysterious.
Concerning to me personally is a statement in the letter that "Now that we know that gym usage numbers have been misrepresented, was this a deliberate move to disguise facts and market an unneeded recreation gym as a multi-use community center?" We " know" no such thing.
I have no idea what is being passed around in the background. To imply that we are deliberately "disguising facts" and "misrepresenting" anything is , well, I will just let readers of this post to judge it for themselves.
You can call me names or disagree with my positions, goes with the turf I suppose, but you don't get to call me a liar.
Here is the real deal. Weather and sports are cyclical. There is a season for basketball, baseball, track and field, soccer, etc. In warmer months you play outdoor sports. In colder months, indoor sports. The need for indoor space to practice for outdoor sports varies from year to year. This year I suspect the teams will move outdoors much earlier than usual. Last winter was later. Organized sports occur at certain times. Basketball season, football season, Tennis season, you get the drift.
During the period when fall and winter sports are played, the Academy gym is essentially more than 100% of capacity. There are times when multiple groups are using it well into the evening. The MCS gym is near 96% capacity. These numbers verify the conclusions of the Blue Ribbon Commission and the UNH team.
No conspiracy, no misrepresentations, just the BoS fulfilling it's legal obligation to do what the Legislative body directed us to do.
I hope to see you all tomorrow morning at Town meeting. Keep an eye on Facebook or Twitter tomorrow if you are planning to come in to vote when article 2 voting begins.