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

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Now What About the Lions Club?

I gather the BoS will have a discussion in the near future regarding the future of the (former) Lions club property.It isn't as simple as putting on a new roof and a fresh coat of paint.
No funds were allocated at Town Meeting to do anything with the property, but there are funds available for maintenance and repair, which could include a new roof.
The basic questions remain to be answered: Do we keep the building? Do we sell the entire property? How much is it really worth? Can it be subdivided? How much usable land is actually there? What about the priority function that occurs in the building, namely Meals on Wheels? Is that a strong enough reason to hold on to the property? Can MoW be moved elsewhere? What does it cost the town to operate the building today? Many more questions that need to be answered so we can move on. It will cost money to renovate, but is it worth it and what will it be used for?
My personal opinion is that it would be a shame and a step backwards to piece meal solutions. There is a big picture and it should be part of an overall strategy. Like it or not, the Lions Club property is in the Village Overlay District and how it all will fit together should be the end game.
Lastly, I would hope that the BoS come to real consensus on this and other issues and learn to better support each other. It will go a long way to defuse community anxiety if they could present a unified front. It's okay to disagree and argue, but in the end, the entire board by majority vote makes decisions.


Joe Cormier said...

It is ... time ... to decide on both the Taylor property and the former Lion's club property.

The BoS have the authority ... right now ... to sell either or both .. or neither. It might cause more than a little commotion in town. Almost as much as commotion, as bringing up a community center each or every year. Community center ... what is that? Who defines it? Should the BoS be the entity that says, this is what it is?

It is tiring, as well, to hear the BoS state, it brings to town meeting warrant articles, that are then shot down by the voters. Listen-up then, to what the majority is saying!

There's never been, to my knowledge, a "quote" on rehabbing the Lion's club "in toto". Being an aficionado of TV shows that do so, it is amazing what can be done. Obviously, new builds, can provide beautiful buildings as well. The difference in location and costs, are obvious concerns. Include septic system, if professionally deemed failing; siding, ADA approved bathrooms, lighting, roofing, ceilings, heating, air conditioning, etc., all that needs to be evaluated, as well. A lot of the same "stuff" is in either new build or rehab. Are there "good bones" in the Lion's club? Major cost saving when rehabbing.

The Lion's club land has three sections of wetland, before anyone brings that up. There are a couple of town paid-for engineering studies, that indicate that. The "wetland" (two minor,one major) are to the side and back of the property, if still wetland (not just spring runoff).

Both properties are in the overlay district, and each has pros/cons. Whatever utilizes the premises, like meals on wheels, bingo, etc., can be done at the lion's club or a new build on the Taylor French property. If either happens, more involvement would probably occur.

If location is a paramount criteria, then again, there are pros/cons to each. It would be tough finding a more village-central location than the Taylor property; for a building, or a town common, both, one, not the other!

The elephant in the room might be utilization. Is either property the solution for more recreation. Who says recreation is paramount? Should that be part of the equation? I haven't mentioned a gym because I believe a gym can be placed on either property. Don't go digging cellar holes to store sports equipment. Slabs anyone?

The BoS should not be the deciders,in my view, but the implementers of the wishes of the town; at least the majority of the town. Is it possible to get a majority or define it? Town meeting is an accepted method, although imperfect. What isn't?

I've sounded off about "Special town meetings" with NO DISCUSSION OF MONEY or FINANCING, to help get a pulse and a vote on the above. Snowbirds are back during the summer, and could be part of that majority. Maybe the town moderator would allow non-resident taxpayers to speak at the special town meetings. Once decisions are made, there, the BoS could place warrant articles in the following budget season for the 2019 town meeting to pay/finance for the decisions made prior.

Let the fun begin!

Tom Howard said...

Thanks, Joe Cormier, for a providing a nice framework for continued discussion. Many of your questions have been researched in past "study groups" including the Lions Club renovation question that was addressed during the Recreation Strategic Planning process (you found the soils studies, for instance). I can add plenty of historic reference, which may or may not still apply. I am more than willing to share information with anyone that has listening and challenge-solving skills. Of course, I am also a strong advocate for the benefits of public recreation programs and am a willing taxpayer when it comes to facilities to serve all of our populations.

Joe Cormier said...

Tom, there is much skepticism regarding more studies, notwithstanding the of members of the studies, or reports. I'm not suggesting personal agendas. The fact remains ... here we are ... still !?

I can still remember the UNH recreation study (still on the town website with others at "Major Projects") with Phd.'s in Recreation, hired by the Rec. Dept., to give determination on the need for recreation, in one of the most recreation friendly/available parts of NH! Gee ... wonder what they'll suggest?

My framework is not for continued discussion. Quite the opposite. It suggests a legally binding, and MoBo-untried method to get things done. I'm aware the MoBo past has some instances of town get-togethers, to discuss a thing or two as a town. They were not Special town meetings", but listening sessions, or pacifiers.

A verbalized comment I've heard at BoS sessions is to keep bringing "it" up until ...!

"IT" is the issue. Maybe there's hope "the majority" will swing the other way, and then hurry, and "do it"!

I've no vested interest one way or the other. My tax rate will not go up or down, more than any other town taxpayer, no matter happens.

Hire a professional facilitator ... please ... and do what? Facilitate a food fight at the school auditorium. We have a facilitator ...town moderator ... and a process ... town vote ... that could include deadlines for getting things done ... or not ... if properly debated with those that want a say.

You and I could start the debate by your stance of "I am also a strong advocate for the benefits of public recreation programs" and my disagreeing, and stating that an individual should provide his/her own recreation, via public enterprises, and not depend on tax dollars. Tax dollars could help those businesses, however.

School recreation programs are different, and part of a separate debate.

Maybe,Tom, we can entice others to join the conversation. As you mention "... share information with anyone that has listening and challenge-solving skills." I'm not sure how that determination is made, and by whom, but am willing to listen ... and maybe disagree..