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To The Editor:
The ballot initiative presented at Town Meeting Day for a new town office building is worthy of careful consideration. The select board would like to have approval for proceeding with its plans. However, this is more than a vote for a new town building on the Farm Stand lot. It is the beginning of a large project to convert the Flemer barns into something public. The town office is the “gateway” to this larger masterplan.
The select board has rejected the Methodist church for cost considerations. According to them, it is simply too expensive. They have their numbers in order and claim everything is “apples to apples.” I accept that. It all comes down to cost, apparently. That is until you bring up other options. Then the location, scope, size warrant the $1.6 million price tag. So, according to the select board, there is one option that can be done and protect the taxpayers’ interest. Fair enough. They have done their due diligence. They have followed their “public process.”
It appears that the select board’s agenda is to buy the Farm Stand site and acquire the barns, as a public private partnership development, maybe. They want to renovate the barns as public community space. Now, we are to disregard the high cost of renovating and operating old buildings. At one meeting, I asked for a clarification of the large difference in operating cost between the church and new building. The architect said it was much more costly because of the volume of the church. So, take a look at the volume of the barns.
The point is the select board had decided a course of action based on an agenda and has eliminated the Methodist church as an option. They are doing this by trying to scare taxpayers with the exorbitant cost of renovation and reuse, while on the other hand develop interest in adaptive reuse for the Flemer barns. The only rush for this project is that the purchase option for the Flemer properties will expire.
Vote no to this initiative.