Freedom – October 29, 2009 — Fifty-nine Freedom residents attended the latest Article 26 meeting on Thursday, October 22. John Krebs was the only committee member not present at the meeting, which ran until 9:30 p.m. The committee is studying options for relocating or refurbishing the town’s municipal buildings.
A majority of the meeting was spent continuing a discussion of the facility relocation options that were presented at the previous meeting. As a demonstration, Eric Palson of Sheerr McCrystal Palson Architecture took some of the options and placed them, via computer, on the Firehouse lot and the present Town Office lot.
One of the stumbling blocks to the expansion and renovation of the Town Office building at its present location is parking. Prior to the meeting, committee members John Shipman and Lee Fritz spoke to the property owners abutting the Town Office and reported that all of them are willing to work with the town by selling a portion of their property to help address parking. With this information, and the possible elimination of the roller barn, Palson came up with 40-46 parking spaces.
The Firehouse lot, with the proposed acquisition of adjacent land, the cost of which is still unknown, was shown with the fire and police departments together, and then with all three departments on the property. The fire department with its bays would be the front building on the lot, and the town offices and police would be at the back of the lot.
Among the questions and discussions at the meeting were:
• What about a holding tank for water for the sprinkler system if the town offices stay where they are? Palson told Fire Chief Gene Doe that he felt space could be found in the proposed land acquisitions.
• The proposed size of the selectmen’s meeting room was discussed in regard to how it affects parking space needs. The question was raised: at what point should we consider a cut off in the proposed size given that meeting space in the Town Hall can be utilized?
• If the Town Office building was left vacant, what would be done with it? The Historical Society said it was not interested in taking on more responsibility, due to the cost, but would entertain a proposal if the town leased the building for a $1.00 and continued taking care of maintenance, including closing it during the winter. There was also a suggestion that the building be restored, including the cupola.
• The viability of moving half of the Town Offices to another location to limit some of the parking pressures was discussed. A suggested location was the Clancy house, which is for sale.
• Use of the original schoolhouse building, which is now a home that’s for sale, was considered if the town just wanted the land. It was stated that there was not much land involved, and no one had suggestions for how the house might be used. Tearing it down or moving it were flagged as issues because of its historical significance.
• Use of the building presently housing the antique fire engine was discussed for its potential use as town storage.
• The use of the school for large meetings is being hampered by the lack of a full kitchen, and the question was raised about whether that situation could be rectified.
• Winter driveway access to the present Town Office was discussed. There was a suggestion of putting the means of melting snow into the road bed, but Palson said that would be expensive to install and maintain. The driveway, which is liberally coated with salt during winter, does have some help from nature because it faces south.
Written comments made by volunteer consultant Ian Marshall about the two previous meetings were entered into the record. Several of his comments were in regard to issues not previously discussed, including his feeling that the committee should not consider moving the bandstand. Marshall also said that when the committee discusses how many parking spaces are needed, it should consider that many people walk to meetings at the current Town Office.
Volunteer consultant Jean Marshall presented her initial traffic count analysis and received the committee’s approval to ask the state to install a traffic counter at the intersection of Rt. 153 and Ossipee Lake Road for further analysis.
In other matters, a majority of the committee voted to approve $3,950 to hire Novis to conduct a visual hazardous waste assessment of the town buildings that are being considered for renovation.
The next meeting of the committee will be on Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Town Hall.