Friday, July 18, 2008
Highland Building Study Committee will recommend Town Meeting referendum
On July 2, the Highland Building Committee met to put the finishing touches on their recommendations to the Selectmen, and struggled over how to phrase the introduction to their document. The committee’s original charge was to present the Selectmen with all the viable options for disposition of the Highland Building. Although they have included demolition among these options, all the committee members have come to agree that the building should be saved rather than demolished.
Committee member and Selectman Alan Carpenito speculated that the Selectmen will consider the Highland Building “an integral part of the debate on the school.” School Committee liaison Dale Ryder expressed concern that if the building “is tied to the school building process, that is a really long project.” Ken Hoffman added, “If the Highland is being discussed as part of [the school building project], you almost have to do a mothball first. That time is needed to figure out which program it can be part of. If [the building] sits around for another year the way it is, the decision may be made for us by Mother Nature.”
Therefore, Hoffman continued, “we need to give advice as to what should happen next. If we go on the assumption that it has value and should be saved, and that it takes time to figure out what it should be saved for, some sort of stabilization needs to happen.” Committee supports referendum
Committee member Bob Stone suggested that the first step would be to get a mandate (through a referendum) from the town to decide to save the building, so that the next phases of salvage, restoration and use could proceed from there. He advised that the committee recommend such a referendum to the Selectmen in their introduction and conclusion, and added that he felt that the School Committee does not seem as negative about saving the building as they had appeared formerly. “But,” he said, “the first battle we need to win is to get the town to vote to preserve the building.”
Timeline for next steps
The committee went through their proposal draft, and then decided to send all comments and suggestions to Stone, who has served so far as editor, by July 9 so that he could return it to the committee in final form by July 13. They will meet again on July 30 to approve the document and it will be in the hands of the Selectmen soon afterward.
After the document has been submitted to the Selectmen, the committee agreed, the School Committee should receive a copy of it, and if the Highland Building Committee goes before the Selectmen in August to discuss the recommendations, the School Committee should be specifically invited to be present at the Selectmen’s meeting. ∆
© 2008 The