To The Daily Sun,
Belmont residents now have the opportunity to share their ideas for the historic 1833 Belmont Mill. This is a positive step. The selectmen have requested feedback from the community regarding future use of the Mill after a warrant article for the Mill was turned down by voters last March.
Belmont's Mill and historic district are a tremendous asset that needs to cultivated. They give Belmont a "sense of place" and will attract residents, visitors and investment. As indicated by the town Master Plan and previous town charettes (futuring discussions) have concluded, the Belmont Mill does not exist alone, it is the cornerstone of Belmont's downtown revitalization, along with our beautifully restored historic bandstand. Recent work by the town on Main Street sidewalk and plantings are also moving in the right direction.
We have good bones to build from. Downtown Belmont has a small core of historic buildings that house commercial businesses, a Town Hall and Corner Meeting House, library, bandstand, old post office, a police station and historic residences in addition to the Belmont Mill. There are resources available to help us continue to move forward.
Here are a few simple points to keep in mind:
-—The Mill is the gem of Belmont Village.
— It is a great location for social, education, medical and other community services and displaying our heritage.
— It basically a sound building worthy of continuing investment.
— There are great resources we can tap into on this.
— We have time to get this right.
People in Belmont value the mill. The mill building has proven its ability to host a variety of community services that really benefited the community. When it was fully occupied rental income was over $90,000 annually. Engineering studies indicate the building is basically sound. It does need some replacement and reinforcement of floor beams and flooring on the top floor and work on the brick on one wall and the exterior, but this work could be phased or handled through grants, or by public/private or private investment. We have time to work this through and make good choices that will be supported by the community.
We have some great potential partners to explore options with including the Belmont Economic Development Council (EDC) and the Lakes Region Community College, and LRGHealthcare.
The Belmont Mill location and facility would be a good fit for education, community health and services and the arts. With activities possibly ranging from an extension campus of LRCC with classrooms, evening adult education opportunities, to LRG Healthcare offices/services, to daytime child or adult care services, to a community arts center, to a Belmont heritage museum or display, to community arts center to town services like the Senior Center and some town offices.
We need to explore the options and lay out clear choices for the community. Options for the mill are tied to decisions related to the old post office/bank building, and Town Hall and the Police Station is in need of expansion. By listening to all the ideas, the town can lay out some clear options and present these to the people of Belmont. We need to move forward and make decisions for the future. With clear priorities based on public support, we can develop a strategy and set us on a path to accomplish it. Belmont's downtown offers great opportunities, let's use this opportunity to quit circling around the issues and move forward.