Voters Send a Message

by Chuck Douglas

After learning that the Board of Selectmen were proposing a warrant article to spend $100,000 to level the Community Building, part-time Recreation Department Michele Vecchione, became a woman on a mission.

At her expense, Michele pulled together a Heart of the Community flyer and a citizen petition warrant article to keep the building operational by doing the life safety requirements called for by the Fire Safety Engineer Bob Cummings at a cost of $76,900 (fire alarm, fire retardant wallboard, etc.), as well as another $465 for fixing a threshold and fire retardant paint. Removal of the generator and fuel tank on the fire side come to $2,500.

Also included was $14,480 for necessary upgrades as called for by the Fire Marshall and Yeaton & Associates. Long time Bow Rotary member, John Ruggles of R & T Electric, provided a hard “will do it for that price” analysis with no fluff in it.

Michele took the numbers and the total came to $94,345 to save the building for a lower cost than destroying it in hopes of bonding a new one. The money would come from a municipal building reserve fund with over $300,000 in it so taxes would not be increased. It would bring the building into compliance with the State Fire Marshall’s concerns of several years ago. Her citizen warrant article reads:
“To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $94,345 for the purpose of Life Safety compliance and electrical upgrades to keep the Recreation Department side of the Bow Community Building open for assembly, operation of the Bow Recreation Department, and community use and to authorize the withdrawal of up to $94,345 from the Municipal Building and Grounds Capital Reserve Fund for the above purposes.”

Then came the sales job for Rotary, The Men’s Club, etc. and the petition soon went viral on social media. Group after group and neighborhood by neighborhood circulated it for voters to sign to have a choice at town meeting.

The 25 needed signatures were obtained the night she spoke to the Men’s Club, but on she went for more signers.

At the petition due date on Tuesday February 6, there were over 532 voters choosing to save the building and the activities in it.

That night as the Selectmen took up what to do with the Community Building the voter’s voices were heard. Selectman Chris Nicolopoulos moved to withdraw the proposed $100,000 warrant article calling for razing the building and prevailed by a 4 to 1 vote. Selectman Colleen Hunter, who wants a new building, voted no.

The board next discussed the recent price for the removal of asbestos by Penial Environmental Services. Their price of $21,200 is the same whether the building is destroyed or not.

Chuck Douglas told the board he expected a floor amendment to add that asbestos number to the $94,345 so that “all health and safety issues could be done once and for all.” Again, Selectman Nicolopoulos made a motion to add that number to the building maintenance line item. The vote in the affirmative was 4 to 1, with Harry Judd voting against it.

The board’s discussion recognized that their desire to have a new building was dramatically changed last month with the loss of power plant tax case in the Supreme Court. The board then went into nonpublic session to discuss a possible multi-million dollar settlement with Eversource.

The board hopes to have a proposal before town meeting on how to pay back the millions at stake.

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