By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MOULTONBOROUGH — After voters convincingly rejected a proposal to construct a community center at the cost $6.5 million last month, a petition has begun making the rounds to convene a special Town Meeting to consider rehabilitating the Lions Club to serve as a community center and converting the Adele Taylor property in the village to a town common.
Joe Cormier, who became a figure of controversy by silencing debate on the proposed community center before it began at Town Meeting, confirmed Monday that he initiated the petition. He said that after discussing the prospects of building what he called a "scaled down" community center with several others, "I grabbed the money and ran with it."
Cormier said that the town owns both properties and suggested both could be put to use for significantly less than what was proposed to build the 20,000-square-foot facility, which included an 11,000-square-foot gymnasium, scuttled at the annual Town Meeting. He noted that the town acquired the Lions Club site for $495,000, which includes a 5,700-square-foot building, in 2007, then leased it to the club for 10 years. The lease, he said, expires in June 2017. The town acquired the Adele Taylor property, a 5.09-acre lot with a single-family home in the center of the village, in 2014 for $275,000.
Cormier's petition consists of the two articles. The first asks if the town will vote to "repair and rehabilitate" the Lions Club, which could include expanding the footprint of the building. He proposes convening a committee of not less than five or more eleven members, none of whom serve as elected or appointed members of any other committee in the town or school district, chaired by the town administrator. The size of the committee would be set by voters at the special town meeting and the members appointed by the town moderator at the same meeting. The committee's recommendation would be presented to the Town Meeting in March 2017.
The second article simply asks if the town will vote to create a common or park at what is known as the Adele Taylor property.
The petition requires the signatures of 50 registered voters. If enough signatures are gathered, the meeting would be held between the second week in July and second week in August.
"I thought I would just put it up for grabs," Cormier said, adding that he has only just begun soliciting signatures. He suggested that voters in March rejected the proposed community because they found the cost excessive and questioned the need for a gymnasium. Although he allowed that the Lions Club might be expanded to include a "small gymnasium," Cormier said that the entire complex could be completed for much less than $6.5 million.
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