To The Daily Sun,
Belmont voters have three questions on the Ballot related to our historic Belmont Mill. I recommend voting:
• Question 6: YES, to save the Belmont Mill.
• Question 7: NO, to tearing Belmont Mill down.
• Question 8: YES to selling the Belmont Mill.
Let's keep it simple. The real need is for a comprehensive facility plan for Belmont's town buildings, not a decision that looks at only the Mill. Why vote to demolish Belmont's most iconic feature which engineering studies identify as structurally sound (2013 H.L. Turner Report)? The Belmont Mill is a valuable economic asset and core to Belmont's historic identity and sense of place. Why spend tax money to tear down the town's most valuable building?
Is the real question what's the best way to house our town staff in the future and what will it cost? Then we need a basic facility assessment of town-owned buildings that can be compared with repairs and modernization assessment on the Belmont Mill. We need to consider space needs for all town employees (including the Police Department), to get the big picture. Let's not jump the gun and assume that the 2015 Belmont Mill proposal, which voters turned down, is the only solution.
At the Deliberative Session, I proposed a broad-based Citizen Committee including engineering, design, office planning, real estate and economic development experience be created to address this issue in a comprehensive fashion. There have been numerous past efforts like the PlanNH Charette in 2010, Study Committees and the Mill architectural assessment that we can build from. With a basic engineering/building estimate of all these buildings for repair and reconstruction long-term and a estimate of office space needs based on accepted engineering standards, we have time to look at the big picture and present a clear and well-thought-out range of choices for taxpayers.
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