Published DateMEREDITH — The three candidates for the two seats on the Board of Selectmen —Nate Torr, Lou Kahn and Jayne Greemore — along with two incumbent trustees of the library — Pamela Coburn and Mary Richardson — who are seeking reelection unopposed, fielded questions from voters before more than two dozen voters at the Community Center last night.
Torr, who joined the Selectboard soon after retiring after a 40-year career as a high school biology teacher, said that he is seeking a second term because "the town of Meredith has been good to me and this is an opportunity to give back." He confessed to sometimes "being a little crazy as my wife can attest," but added that he was pleased with the work of the board during his tenure.
"I'd like to be a native," said Kahn, "but my New York accent gives me away." Calling Meredith "my hometown," he said that his relationship with the community began 43 years ago. Since becoming a year-round resident in 1998 he has served on the Planning Board for nine years and as a trustee of trusts funds as well as granted the town conservation easements on 200 acres of land bordering the Eames and Hamlin town forests.
Born and raised in Michigan, Greemore trained to become a teacher, but, like her husband Bob, a state representative, ultimately pursued a career in culinary arts, working as chef for a hospitality firm in Boston. Twenty years ago, the couple settled in Meredith, where together they run Bob's Sharp-All, a sharpening business begun by Bob's father.
Torr is running on the record of the track record of the current Selectboard, which was endorsed by Kahn who said "things are going very well. I want to help out and keep things going." He remarked that as chairman of the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) Committee he knew the condition of the town's dump trucks, adding, "I don't want to see a situation like that in a neighboring community where the fire trucks have broken down."
"Maybe with fresh eyes, a different way of looking at things," remarked Greemore, signaling a measure of unease with the status quo, "I can contribute something to the town."
Asked about the condition of the library, Coburn, a denizen of the library since the age of two, spoke about the "deferred maintenance," which would require between $300,000 and $400,000 to overcome, then turned to the need for additional space in the future. Describing the library as "a democratic institution, a great leveler," she stressed its importance as a means of providing cultural resources and opportunities to those of modest means. Richardson, a mother of two who volunteers at the library, briefly echoed the remarks of her more experienced colleague.
Torr explained that the the library is governed by the trustees and the role of selectmen is confined to appropriating funds for its operation.
"There's no question the library needs some spending," said Kahn, who noted that the trustees have yet to approach the CIP Committee.
Greemore said she was not sure what municipal funding was available and suggested the trustees explore other sources, such as bake sales, while conceding they would not in themselves be sufficient.
All three candidates for the Selectboard doubted much could be done in the near future to ease the congestion in the summer months at the junction of routes 3 and 25. Greemore acknowledged that a roundabout could be the best solution, but warned "we're going to lose buildings, parking and a lot else. There is no real easy answer."
Both Torr and Kahn said that with the state short of funding for highway projects there is little likelihood the intersection will be addressed in the foreseeable future. "I think we're stuck with it," said Kahn, who added that residents have found ways around it and the immediate challenge was prevent heavy trucks from using these alternative routes.
Torr feared if the town pressed the issue "we'll be stuck with a roundabout" and suggested "leave it alone."
Paula Triombi, referring to a letter Greemore sent to the press remarking on the "tax and spend mentality" of the Selectboard, asked her where she would reduce the budget. Greemore replied that she had not an opportunity to review the budget, but repeated that "all taxes, federal, state and local are going up. It's inevitable."
Torr explained that since 2009 the Selectboard has budgeted to peg the amount raised by property taxes to the level of 2008 while conceding there would be some increase in 2013 to compensate for deferred investment in infrastructure and equipment.
Asked what is their "pet peeve," Kahn replied "maybe I see too much sunshine, but I really don't have a significant gripe."
Greemore urged residents to bring their concerns to the selectmen.
And Torr said "why are they digging up the road in front of the bank again," referring to the recurrent problems with the sewer line belonging to the Winnipesaukee River Basin Project on Route 25.
The election will be held on Tuesday, March 12.