To The Daily Sun,
Belmont Residents voting "Yes" on March 6 to demolish the Gale School will not only increase your property taxes, but will be a huge mistake. There are many myths associated with historic property restoration that I am hoping to put an end to in this letter.
1. You can't change a historic building. You have to leave it as is because it's "protected." FALSE
Historic property designation does not require leaving the building as is. All buildings need to be upgraded from time to time to remain viable, it is understood that some changes will be necessary to bring the building up to today's current codes. When alterations and repairs are made, it is important to protect those elements of the building that reflect historic character. Since these are usually the parts of the building that everyone agrees make it special, often there is little interest in removing or changing these elements anyway such as the exterior of the building.
2. A successful business needs a slick, new building, and costs much less than restoring a historic structure. FALSE.
More often than not, historic buildings have great location and impressive appearance. Generally, they are also well known to the community, as opposed to a new building which usually needs some time and promotion to attain the same level of public recognition. Depending on the current condition of the building and its intended use, it's often less expensive to rehabilitate. In fact, rehabilitation can cost up to 12 percent less than new construction. Historic building rehabilitation can also be up to 18 percent faster than building new. (Rypkema, 2003).
Our Gale School is in an exceptional condition (www.belmontnh.net/GaleEducation) (see 2013 Gale School Inspections Town of Belmont vs. Omega Structural Engineers). This structure has significant ties to the community of Belmont. Former students who went through its doors, former students who may have not been in the building per se, but who have built replicas in the classroom of the structure, and who have learned the history of the building. A building that the community honors on floats throughout many Old Home Day parades, and a building that engages curiosity of our youth to know the history of our community.
3. Old buildings are not energy efficient. FALSE.
Because historic buildings tend to have fewer windows comprising the exterior walls, they may be more efficient than newer buildings which have a larger percentage of exterior walls made up of windows. Buildings with a 30 to 40 percent window to wall ratio are most efficient. But, that ratio is typically exceeded in modern buildings because they contain much more glass. As well, historic windows that are well fitted and have properly installed storm windows generally provide an R2 insulation value, about the same as a modern, double glazed window. (United States National Parks Service)
I caution all who vote "Yes" to demolish this building. It will cost $10,000 more in tax dollars to relocate the building. Are you willing to pay to have it demolished, gone forever for a measly $10,000 saved. A 1982 graduate of Belmont High School, has donated $115,000 to place this structure on a sound foundation. Apparently he feels this structure should be saved. The Save Our Gale School Committee stands behind this building.
Go to the Belmont NH Heritage Facebook page to see the many individuals who are fighting for this structure. I want taxpayers to become informed before making this decision, know the facts. For those who were not born and raised in Belmont, step back to your childhood, your hometown, how would you feel about a special building being torn down in your hometown. I realize tax dollars are hard on everyone this day and age, but we as a community can raise the funds to save this building with little to no taxpayer dollars.
Let's move this building to a solid foundation, turn it into SAU Offices, opening up the Memorial Building (current SAU Offices) for full-time kindergarten. Spending no money on portable buildings in the future, and planning for a bus loop around the middle school for safety reasons down the road. Please vote "No" to demolishing the Gale School on March 6, let us save our hard earned tax dollars, and put those spent where it makes most sense.
- Category: Letters
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