To The Daily Sun,
An open letter to the Belmont Town Fathers, the Budget Committee and the taxpayers of Belmont,
The Town of Belmont will again be bringing a bond issue to the town taxpayers this year to decide on whether or not to spend around $3.7 million to reconstruct the Belmont Mill and refurbish it for use as the Town Hall.
A great amount of federal grant money and taxpayer dollars was spent on this mill some years ago and we are now discovering that the improvements made at that time were inadequate. The local newspapers have been reporting that the fourth floor of this building is falling apart, the outside bricks are allowing water to get inside the building and there is all sorts of deterioration to this building.
Before deciding whether or not to spend millions of dollars more, an investigation should be done on the first reconstruction. Among others, the following questions should be asked and answered:
• What exactly was done to the mill previously?
• What was not done that should have been?
• How did the costs break down for the last reconstruction?
• Was the contracted work properly supervised by a party looking out for the interests of the town?
• Was there a qualified professional in charge of the construction?
• Are there plans and specifications available to review from the last construction?
• Are there "As Built," that is, after-the-fact plans available to review?
• Were there any design or construction changes made during the last construction that shouldn't have been made?
The purpose of this investigation should be to find the mistakes that were made the last time so that we can be sure they won't be made again.
Until this investigation is complete, we are liable to make the same mistakes all over again.
This investigation should be open and transparent and should be conducted by a citizen's committee of townspeople who have no personal or financial interest in whether or not the $3.7 million bond will pass, but instead are interested in what is best for the town taxpayers. Town employees should be available to assist this committee by retrieving relevant records such as the above-mentioned plans, minutes of meetings where decisions and updates were mentioned and decided upon, and whatever other records may be needed. This committee should be headed by an individual with some knowledge of engineering and construction or, if not possible, such an individual should be available to the committee for consultation.
This town has been convinced, in the past, to vote to purchase buildings before a definite use has been assigned to them and before a proper investigation was conducted. Let's be smart this time and call for this investigation before spending any more money.
Please attend the following meetings and voice your opinion:
• Tues., Jan. 13, 6:30 p.m., Budget Committee Hearing at Corner Meeting House.
• Tues., Jan. 20, 6:30 p.m., Bond Hearing at Corner Meeting House.
• Sat., Jan. 31, Town Deliberative Session.
George & Susan Condodemetraky