To The Daily Sun,
A special meeting of the members of the Belknap Mill Society was held at 7:30 a.m. on January 14. The purpose of the meeting was to update the members regarding the current status of the mill and to take the pulse of the membership with regard to the future of the ownership of the building. 40 members were in attendance.
The board's President, Christine Santaniello, opened the meeting, and after introductions, explained that the mill has been in a difficult financial situation for decades and is down to bare bones staffing. The Society requires revenue of $150,000 annually to operate the buildings and programming. She explained that the board is exploring long term solutions for sustainability of the Society and stressed that the mill building should remain in the hands of the public. She explained that the first option is to explore a relationship with the city, but if this is unattainable, there may be a future with the Belknap Economic Development Council, as the mill is essential to the revitalization of downtown.
Following Santaniello's opening comments, Vice-President Allison Ambrose led a membership input session on possible long-term, sustainable solutions. The members of the Society provided valuable input and suggestions for alternative long-term sustainability. Constructive thoughts came from many passionate members, including attorney Patrick Wood, Tom Tardif, Marcia Cotter, Al Posnack, Hazel Zimmer, Deb Drake, John Pounds and George Roberts. Discussion was had relative to capital campaigns, membership drives, fundraising, working with schools and finding commercial tenants to occupy the vacant second floor space. After a tally, 23 of the present 40 members felt that the Belknap Mill Society should retain ownership of the building. Eighteen of the present members graciously offered to help the Society during this difficult time.
Following the member discussion, Managing Director Beth San Soucie offered an overview of the Society's 2015 goals. Preservation of the building was top on the list, followed by programming. The boiler for the building's heating system needs updating, an expensive undertaking. In addition to the heating system, the Society is working to restore the finial and cupola this spring, and with any remaining funds and grants, will continue to pursue the window project, roof repairs and other necessary building needs. Ms. San Soucie demonstrated thanks for those who offered to volunteer or assist with pro bono work referrals.
The meeting concluded with the board's pledge to consider all matters discussed at the Special Member Meeting. The Belknap Mill Society's Annual Meeting will occur in February 2015, at which time the issue of the building ownership will be presented to the membership for a vote. The date will be made known to the membership and posted on the Belknap Mill Society Website.
Board of Trustees
Belknap Mill Society
- Category: Letters
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