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There are several reasons for Ashland to buy Tri-CCAP building

To The Daily Sun,

In 1938 the present Ashland library building was deeded to the town by Emma Scribner.

The deed specifies no expansion or changes to the building. The library is in dire need of renovation. However, (it) can't be expanded in the present location. This situation will increase in the future. Grants aren't available because the building doesn't meet current life safety codes. There are no sprinkler systems, and the second floor is not handicapped accessible.

The building is owned by the town however it isn't controlled by the town. The Scribner Trust and trustees manage the building and grounds. The library trustees manage the libraries day to day activities. The Scribner Trust and trustees have served Ashland well throughout the years. However, the day will soon come when the library will leave the Scribner building.

The voters of Ashland know well of the present library's space and code issues. This was on the warrant two years ago. In 2016, informational pamphlets went out to all local postal customers. There is no denying the fact that sometime in the next few years the town of Ashland will buy new library space or build a new library complex.

Article 4 on the Ashland Town Warrant asks the voters if the town should purchase Tri-County Community Action Program (Tri-CCAP) building on School Street for library space. This is an opportunity for the town. The library will have the space to move into the future. The building would be town controlled, out from under the deeds of the Scribner Trust.

I urge any voters not familiar with the Tri-CCAP building to visit during the open house on Saturday, March 5, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There are other significant reasons that the voters of Ashland should consider purchasing the Tri-CCAP building. These are not so evident, but are very important to the financial future of Ashland. This building would be much more than a space for the library. It would be a community space available to the townspeople. The third floor of the Tri-CCAP building is a dividable function hall. It would be open for community events with accessibility for all.

The proposed library purchase of the Tri-CCAP building would give the town space that could accommodate every municipal or school program that presently uses the Booster Club.

The Booster Club building that overlooks the ballpark on South Main Street is in bad condition. The building is old, doesn't meet some safety codes, and is operating beyond its capabilities. Over the years Ashland has renovated the building with upgrades that allow year-round use for the After School Program, Selectboard meetings, and other community functions.

If the town of Ashland continues to use the Booster Club for town functions and school programs, the voters may soon be asked to spend another large amount to replace the ballpark building.

The proposed Tri-CCAP purchase could accommodate all library, school, town government, and community programs to the new building eliminating possible need for a new Booster Club building. Returning the Booster Club to three-season use, or at least non-essential winter use, would give the building many more years of serviceability.

The After school Program presently uses two aides that walk the children down School Street, Gordon Street, and South Main to get from the school to the After School Program. Every day, rain or shine. More than half mile of sidewalks, three street crossings. The new library would be 50 yards from the elementary school's front door.

The Tri-CCAP building is located within our school complex on a piece of fenced property between the school and the gym. Ten years ago many voted against the town selling the building to Tri-CCAP. The town didn't have the funds to save the building, and many voters felt the building should be demolished to preserve the safety and integrity of the school grounds. Tri-CCAP, received a federal grant and donation from the Ashland Historical Society to renovate the building.

The building is now a beautiful, historically significant structure listed on the National Historic Register. The property should again be town owned. We shouldn't allow a medical building or any other businesses to become intertwined with our elementary school. The building is located in the best place for the library to become an asset to school programs, yet isolated by fences and gates that allow public use.

The cost of borrowing money is at an all-time low. The present library building doesn't fulfill the community's needs. The second floor doesn't meet safety codes. The basement is off limits. There is too little space, and deed restrictions prohibit expansion. Sooner or later Ashland will have to build or buy new library space. Money borrowed today will certainly be cheaper than in the future.

Sixteen cents a day. Most homes in Ashland average $150,000 tax value. The cost of the Tri-CCAP building would be 16 cents a day for an average home, $1.12 a week, $7.84 a month.

Many Ashland voters, including myself, grew up in town, went to Ashland schools, and spent hours each week in the library. In the past the citizens of Ashland have always funded the library. In the 1960s and '70s that funding supported me as I worked through the educational years. Folks that didn't grow up in Ashland sure enough had a similar library experience wherever they lived.

To me, it doesn't matter who the children or adults are that use our library. I see my nostalgic self in every child that walks through the libraries door. Ashland library patrons, young to old, are well worth my 16 cents a day.

I encourage all Ashland voters to join with me on Tuesday, March 8, to vote "yes" on Article 4 in support of the library.

Ray Mason


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M’boro Community Center is more of a want than a need

To The Daily Sun,

Moultonborough is about to decide once and forever whether we get a community center or not. It has been presented to the voters many times in one form or another for nearly a decade. The answer was "No" in 2008 and again in 2011; but here we are once again. The price tag for this latest 19,000-square-foot effort is a $6.5 million bond (and several hundred thousand more for the annual labor to run and maintain it).

At some point taxpayers (non-resident and resident alike) need to assess the continuing list of "needs" and "wants" this town continues to force on them. Taxpayers are usually out-gunned in the usual forum of town/school meetings by the non-taxpayer residents. With 75 percent of our tax base being held by non-residents, who have "skin in the game" but no say, those residents who think it proper to have more and more needs met by the town, win hands down. The majority of the 150-250 people who desire to spend a day at Town Meeting are not property taxpayers. Now this latest effort the cards are stacked even more in their favor. They can wait for a text message or a tweet for them go to the annual gala event and vote for up to an hour. Tell me how that doesn't help the spenders more that the payers.

The non-resident taxpayers have a long list of inventory they have paid for over the years ... bloated school systems with evaporating student body and mediocre education, private properties purchased to subsidize non-profits and individuals alike, poorly designed and constructed buildings, stainless steel trucks, you name it. If we don't have it we will eventually ..."because we can."

For example, non-resident taxpayers pay roughly $10.5 million of the $14 million school budget to educate 511 (soon to be fewer than 499) students — $27,400 per student per year. Show me another public school system in the U.S. that pays more for their schools per student that we do.

But I digress. This about the $6.5 million bond. In the last decade we have lost about 27 percent of the students (the kids who would have been using the CC/gym) and about 20 percent of our overall population. What did we ever do when we had 20-25 percent more users of facilities back in the day? "It was more of a problem then," says the recreation director at a recent Board of Selectmen's meeting. However, because a problem is becoming less of a problem and "tight scheduling may become a problem for some coaches" quoting the Selectboard chair, we are ready to pass a $6.5 million bond. Sounds like a want, not a need.

Let's look at North Conway. They have a special panel to determine what they are going to do with 12,000-square-feet (part of 60,000) that is presently empty.

Or, if you really need a CC/Gym you only have to look at Fryeburg, Maine, to do it right. Years ago they put their recreation department in a 501(c)(3) non-profit and privately supported. They have bought a 20-plus acre tract and over the years built a 17 venue outdoor recreation facility. Now they are $200,000 short of the $1.6 million goal to build a 17,000-square-foot community center. When asked why we didn't look at Fryeburg I was told by one selectman, "Moultonborough is not Fryeburg." Sounds like a "because we can" attitude that so often prevails in this town.

A few things we need to see in Moultonborough: the ABC needs to become a statutory budget committee. The non-resident taxpayers need to form a vocal taxpayer association. They may not vote in town (unless they become a resident) but they represent a huge percent of the tax base. The Board of Selectmen will listen to that. And lastly we need to have SB-2 passed in town and school. If this superfluous incompetence succeeds, SB-2 will have the best chance in a decade to be passed next year. Let's hope.

Rick Heath

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