Warner celebrates library renovations, solar array

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – Town officials and residents gathered twice on Saturday to mark two separate advancements in their community.

In the morning, about 30 people gathered at the new municipal solar array adjacent to the town dump to formerly mark the instillation of the facility.

In the afternoon, residents streamed in and out of the Pillsbury Free Library to see and celebrate the completion of that building’s recent renovations.

The library has been a source of community pride ever since it first opened in 1908, according to Michael Simon, chairman of its board of trustees.

‘We’ve very fortunate because more than 100 years ago, the Pillsbury family donated the land and the building (for the Pillsbury Free Library).’ 

– Michael Simon, chairman of board of trustees.- 

 

“We’ve very fortunate because more than 100 years ago, the Pillsbury family donated the land and the building,” he said. “And Mr. Pillsbury made an agreement with the town, that the town would provide a certain amount of money – one-tenth of one-percent of the town’s assessed value – to the library.”

So while other town libraries have to go back to the voters (or town leadership boards) annually for funding, the Warner facility is guaranteed a certain amount of money for its operations, Simon said.

Several years ago, however, the library board did go to the annual town meeting to request a $25,000 allocation. That money was used to take advantage of a state Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) matching grant totaling $50,000 to pay for much needed renovations to the building. (Town officials provided ‘in-kind’ labor equaling the other.)

Those funds – as well as money created by some additional fundraising – paid for the majority of the changes that were celebrated last weekend.

A major improvement Simon touted was the elimination of a lowered ceiling that as probably installed during the energy crises of the 1970s. It may have lowered fuel costs but it also blocked a section of the historic building’s original ceiling as well as portions of some stain glass windows.

Another significant improvement was brick and masonry repair/renovation done on the exterior. Graham Pendlebury of New Boston worked with Tim Allen, the town’s director of public works, to accomplish much of this work. The project included finding and fixing an area underneath the front stairs that was allowing rain water to leak into the Frank Maria meeting room.

Earlier in the day, Clyde Carson, a selectman and longtime member of the selectmen’s energy committee, thanked several community members for helping to establish the municipal solar array.

At an informal gathering in the DPW garage, Carlson mentioned the contributions of past and present committee members as well as several former selectmen, including Allan N. Brown. He also thanked some residents who manned a phone bank, reminding citizens to come to the annual town meeting in March, where voters approved the $338,530 project.

“Thirty years ago at town meeting, we passed an ordinance for mandatory recycling,” noted Neil Nevins, a longtime advocate of the town’s clean energy initiatives. “And now, thanks to that ordinance we have a wonderful recycling plant nearby.” The recycling effort also paved the way for more clean energy projects, like the new municipal solar array, he added.

The facility will provide power for 14 town buildings and properties, and continue the town’s long-standing involvement in clean energy, Nevins noted.

“I’m so proud to be associated with the town of Warner,” said George Horrocks of Harmony Energy Works, the company that worked with Tim Allen, director of the DPW, on the construction. “Of all the municipalities we’ve had the opportunity to work with over the years, this is the place where a lot of people cared, not just a few… Here, we saw people cared.”

After the discussion, State Sen. Dan Feltes read an official senate resolution congratulating the community on the solar array, and then Carlson led the group outside to the facility. Once in front of the solar panels, several community leaders and others involved in the project participated in an informal ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Then, it was back to the DPW garage for cider and doughnuts, as well as more friendly conversation with neighbors.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record weekly newspapers of Sutton, New Hampshire, on November 21, 2017.

 

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Warner gun proposal still under fire

(Above: The Warner Road site where Dragonfly Ranges wants to build. © Carbone Productions, LLC)

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – The latest shots have been fired in the ongoing community battle over a proposed 16-lane indoor shooting range and gun store on Warner Road near Rte. 103.

On Wednesday night, approximately 50 local residents from Warner and Hopkinton came to a public hearing before the Zoning Board of Adjustment. They offered either support or opposition to the project, which has been proposed by Eric Miller of Sutton under the name Dragonfly Ranges.

The board was unable to a final decision on the project because it still has to review more than 100 pages of public input letters and emails that have been sent from Hopkinton residents. (Hopkinton residents were invited to participate in the review process because the proposed site is close to Contoocook village and deem to be of regional impact; Warner town officials are not obligated to factor in the Hopkinton comments in their final decision.) The board will take up Dragonfly’s proposal at its next meeting on Dec. 13.

‘Guns are uniquely deadly items. You can’t get around that. They’re designed to kill.’

Paul Alfano, MadgeTech attorney 

The most ardent opposition to the shooting range has come from Norman Carlson, the founder and CEO of MadgeTech, a high-tech company that’s located next to the proposed project’s site. Carlson has threatened to move his 60-employee plant out of Warner if the facility is approved by the town. His Warner Road Holdings, Inc. business entity has filed several legal challenges against the town’s planning and zoning boards in order to halt the $1.4-million proposal.

At Wednesday’s meeting, attorney Paul Alfano of Concord, who represents Carlson, started with a linguistic bang. “Guns are uniquely deadly items,” he said. “You can’t get around that. They’re designed to kill.”

The lawyer went on to suggest several reasons that the ZBA should deny Dragonfly Ranges’ request for a special exemption to build on the property near I-89’s exit 7. He said the 11,800 square-foot facility would not meet required setbacks to MadgeTech’s neighboring lot, that the sound of gunfire would be audible from Warner Road, that the operation’s environmental safeguards would not be adequate, and that residential property values in the neighborhood would be adversely impacted by the shooting range/gun store.

In addition, he said that recent renovations Dragonfly had made to its noise abatement program were still insufficient. He quoted from a report that an audio expert had done for his legal firm, which concluded that Dragonfly showed “a complete lack of understanding of acoustics.”

Alfano concluded his presentation by suggesting that the building a gun store/shooting range on the Warner Road land would disagree with the goals of the town’s master plan.

“It’s detrimental to the zoning district,” he said. “And it’s detrimental to the health and welfare of the public.”

Janice Loz, the board’s new chairman, followed up by asking Carlson if he owned a gun.

Some in the audience gasped and Alfano began to object to the question but the MadgeTech CEO said he didn’t own a gun but did not agree with Alfano’s statement “a gun’s only purpose is to kill.”

During the public input part of the meeting, several residents voiced their opposition to the facility.

“I don’t see how a gun range enhances the town. It’s not the reason that people move to the town of Warner,” said Pam August of Warner.

It was a sentiment echoed by several others.

Chuck Austin said he’s hesitant about the project because of what’s happening in Washington. “Congress has been unable to pass even the simplest of gun laws,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to invite (guns) into our town… I don’t think it’s safe to have a gun range or shop in our family town.”

Clyde Carson, who serves on the town’s board of selectmen, said that Carlson’s threat to move MadgeTech out of Warner if the shooting facility is built next door should be taken seriously. “We have an abutter that is a high-tech company, that has one of the highest payrolls in town,” he noted. “They’re saying, this isn’t good for our business… What do we tell our existing businesses if we don’t take them into account?

“It’s not in the best interest of the town to approve this exception,” he told the ZBA.

But others disagreed, saying that some of their neighbors’ fears were unreasonable and that the facility would be a safe asset to the community.

“I speak against the ridiculous assertion that a gun’s sole purpose is killing,” said one man.

Another claimed that the so-called “explosive” nature of gunpowder that Alfano alluded to is a misnomer. “Ammunition does not propagate itself,” he explained. “The idea that it’s a big explosive hazard, that’s just not true.”

Andy Stone of Hopkinton echoed the thoughts of several others when he said that a place like Dragonfly Ranges, where shooters can learn about gun safety and practice their skills, would be beneficial for the area.

James Gafney of Warner questioned the assertion that the proposed facility would drive down local home values, saying that the studies Alfano had presented to the board reflected prices in commercially-zone areas where residential homes were built later, after a shooting range was already established.

“We live in a very rural town,” noted Warner resident Mary Watts. “When we first moved here, I was terrified (because) every one of my neighbors had guns. They would target shoot, and I was afraid a stray shot would hit one of my young children. I was terrified of guns.

“But I had a very good friend who took me to the Manchester firing range,” she added. “That is the most important thing that this brings to this community: it takes away the fear. It helps people like me live in a place like this.”

Afterwards, Dragonfly’s owner Eric Miller said that supporters of his project had come to the meeting with the goal of being heard by officials and other residents.

The ZBA will take up the Dragonfly application again at its next meeting in December.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record weekly newspaper of Sutton, New Hampshire on Tuesday, November 14, 2017.

 

Adjoining towns, regional planning commission, will be heard about proposed gun facility

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – The zoning board of adjustment has decided to invite residents and officials of Hopkinton and Webster, as well as representatives of the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission, to its next public meeting so they can offer input into a proposed $1.4-million, 11,800 square-foot shooting range and retail gun store on Warner Road.

The ZBA approved the idea at its town hall meeting last Wednesday, October 11, after the members began their second review of a zoning variance request from Eric Miller, the Sutton resident who wants to build the facility. The request for the allowable variance was originally approved back by the ZBA in March but a court ruled in July that the board erred when it did not notify several abutters about its original hearing, nor did it consider whether the project could be considered to have “regional impact.” (The latter designation obligates town boards to notify neighboring communities and the planning commission about a proposed project and public hearings about it.)

‘Twenty years ago there was a shooting range right across from the high school and nobody said anything about it.’

– Howard Kirchner,  ZBA member 

The gun store/shooting range proposal has been controversial ever since Miller announced his intentions nearly 10 months ago. Some area residents like the idea, saying there are many gun enthusiasts in the region and the facility will give them a safe place to learn how to improve their skills. Opponents say that the location, roughly three miles from Hopkinton Middle High School, is a poor choice, and that noise and environmental issues could make the operation problematic for the neighborhood.

Most of the legal opposition has come from Norman Carlson, who is founder and CEO of the town’s largest high-tech employer, MadgeTech, Inc.. He has threatened to move his 60-employee plant, adjacent to the Miller’s land, out of town if the project is completed and his Carlson’s business entities have legally challenged almost every aspect of the project, including approvals Miller has won from the ZBA and the planning board. State officials say that Carlson missed out an opportunity to purchase the property, which is adjacent to his plant, during a public bid earlier in the year, and that he inadvertently created the 2.9-acre lot when he mistakenly okayed a tree clearance on the electric company for the land when it was still part of the Davisville State Forest.

At last week’s hearing, Rick Davies, chairman of the ZBA, asked the board’s voting members the question they did not consider at their original hearing in March: Does the proposed facility have a “regional impact?”

Barbara Marty said that it was probably a good idea to let the other communities comment on the project. “I think, being good neighbors, we owe them that,” she said.

“I’m torn,” countered member Howard Kirchner. While he understood people’s concerns, he said that “20 years ago there was a shooting range right across from the high school and nobody said anything about it. This is much safer and much farther away than that.”

Davies pointed out that the question before the board was not on the overall merits of the project but simply whether it could be seen to have regional impact, and therefore trigger invitations to the neighboring towns and the planning commission.

After a brief discussion, the members voted unanimously to support the idea. (The two towns and the commission will have no legal authority at the upcoming meeting to approve or disapprove Warner’s planning decisions.)

The members then adjourned the public hearing with the intention of reconvening it at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 8, at 7 pm in the town hall. The ZBA will also hold a site review of the Warner Road property this Thursday (Oct. 19) at 5:30 p.m. but no pubic input will be taken at that time.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, October 17, 2017.

Warner selectboard hears about beer at annual fall festival, and land use issues related to shooting range plan

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – At a busy meeting of the board of selectmen last week, the town leaders learned about plans to add a beer tent to the Warner Fall Foliage Festival next month and discussed how the recent resignation of the land use secretary could impact legal proceedings regarding the proposed gun store/shooting range.

At the meeting held Monday, August 29, in the town hall, Ray Martin, president of the WFFF’s board of directors, told the three-member town board that the festival has entered into an agreement with SweetFire BBQ of Claremont to operate a beer tent at the 70th annual festival, which runs Friday, Oct. 6 to Sunday, Oct. 8. (The beer tent will not be in operation on Friday, the first night of the downtown event.)

The new vendor will be located on the parking lot behind the New Hampshire Telephone Museum off Depot Street and across from the Pillsbury Free Library. SweetFire will also serve barbecued food, Martin said. “The vendor provides all ID checking (and) there’s a limit of two beers per person,” he noted.

The WFFF board has researched the company and is satisfied that it will manage the beer tent responsibly, the president said. It has its own insurance, which will be backed up by both the telephone museum’s and the festival’s.

The (land use resignation) is especially sensitive at this time because the town is locked in a legal dispute with Norman Carlson, the founder and CEO of MadgeTech, Inc., the town’s largest high-tech employer (regarding the shooting range plan).

 

SweetFire has done “a lot of” similar events in the area, Martin explained, adding that the company has been at the last two Hopkinton State Fairs and at several public events in Claremont.

Because the state liquor commission issues the company’s license, the selectmen did not need to take any action, Martin concluded. He simply wanted them to have giving official notification.

“We’re just looking at this as a rental space,” he told the selectmen. “It could be another $1,300 or $1,400 profit for the Warner Fall Foliage Festival.”

Later in the meeting, the selectmen discussed the recent resignation of Lois Lord, who has served as the town’s land use secretary for the last few years. The position is especially sensitive at this time because the town is locked in a legal dispute with Norman Carlson, the founder and CEO of MadgeTech, Inc., the town’s largest high-tech employer. Carlson’s business operations have recently won a court decision overturning the zoning board of adjustment’s approval of a plan to build a $1.4-million, 11,800 square-foot high-tech shooting range and retail gun facility on land adjacent to his MadgeTech plant on Warner Road. (The ZBA is scheduled to reconsider the application from Eric Miller of Sutton next Wednesday, Sept. 13.)

Town Manager Jim Bingham told the selectmen that the land use secretary’s job has seen some changes recently and he suggested that the board may want to review aspects of the position before hiring someone to take Lord’s place. “My suggestion is that we hire someone on an interim basis,” Bingham said.

Both Rick Davis, chairman of the ZBA, and Ben Frost, chairman of the planning board, told the that their boards do need help in the immediate future – “The gnarlier issues are with the zoning board,” said Frost – but they did not opposed the town administrator’s suggestion.

The selectmen suggested that the town manager begin looking to other communities in the area to find a qualified person to assume the duties on an interim basis.

“I’m going to begin working on that vigorously tomorrow,” Bingham said.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, September 5, 2017.

Unusual agreement seals Odd Fellows building sale to local contractor

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – It took some creativity, but the town finally sold its historic Odd Fellows building to a local contractor who hopes to renovate and restore the structure.

On Aug. 1, the selectmen signed a purchase-and-sales agreement with Nate Burrington. The Warner native and the owner of Burlington Builders and Maintenance will purchase the 125-year-old wooden village building for $10. Burrington wants to convert the 72’-by-42’, three-story landmark into a combination workshop and office for his business, and rent space for office and/or residential apartments.

‘Selectboard Chairman John Dabuliewicz admitted that the town has lost some legal leverage in the agreement.’

 

Burrington first approached the selectmen about taking over the former fraternal meeting place more than six months ago. The town bought the building in 1999 for $50,000 with hopes that it could renovate it into commercial space, or repurpose it for elderly or workforce housing. After none of several such proposals worked out (and environmental issues were discovered on the property) residents were enthusiastic about Burrington’s unusual offer to take over the project and restore it at his own costs.

The idea was addressed at the annual town meeting in March and the selectmen indicated that they expected an agreement would be forthcoming.

Kimberley Edelmann, selectman, said negotiations became complicated. “Whenever you deal with a board, it takes a while because we can’t decide anything except when we’re in an (official) meeting,” she explained.

The selectman wanted some assurance that important restoration work, which includes structural and environmental remediation, would be done in a timely manner. They created a schedule of improvements with deadlines stretching out two years as part of the agreement. If Burrington didn’t comply, the town could retake the building – something it did not really want to do.

(The board was also interested in safeguarding the town’s investment in the property, which has grown to $80,000 as it handled various problems associated with the land since 1999.)

For his part, Burrington was hesitant to commit to a schedule, said Edelmann. If significant complications arose, from personal to international economic challenges, he would lose his initial investment when the town took the building back, she explained.

Finally, Edelmann suggested that the board change the schedule from one that was required to something Burrington would aspire to complete. In addition, a clause stipulates that if Burrington sells or passes on the landmark, the town will receive $80,000.

Edelmann said the agreement is somewhat unusual but seems to satisfy most of the concerns of both sides.

Chairman John Dabuliewicz admitted at a recent selectmen’s meeting that the town has lost some legal leverage in the agreement, but Edelmann pointed out that the Odd Fellows building would no longer be a municipal obligation.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record, Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

 

MadgeTech wins legal fight; firing range decision will be reviewed by ZBA

Some Hopkinton residents are concerned about having a firing range near the Hopkinton Middle High School. They may be able to address the Warner zoning board of adjustment about the issue next month. (Ray Carbone/photo)

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – The founder and president of MadgeTech, Inc., the town’s largest high-tech employer, has won a significant legal victory in his efforts to derail the construction of a proposed indoor shooting range on land adjacent to his plant’s property in the Davisville area.

In a decision handed down last month, Judge Richard McNamara of the Merrimack Superior Court ruled that the town’s zoning board of adjustment acted improperly in March when it OK’ed a variance to its zoning regulations that would allow for the construction of the gun facility. The ruling, which was made in response to a legal request from Norman Carlson of MadgeTech, means that the approval is invalid and the ZBA will have to hold a new hearing to reconsider the proposal.

The ZBA’s next scheduled meeting is September 13. No agenda has yet been posted but Chairman Rick Davies has indicated that the plans for the $1.4-million shooting range and gun retail store will be reconsidered at that time.

The ruling does not mean that Hopkinton neighbors will be able to address the ZBA… (only) that the board must consider the question of whether (the project) has regional impact…

The court decision is a setback for both Eric Miller of Sutton, who hopes to build Dragonfly Ranges on a 2.9-acre lot adjacent to MadgeTech’s plant, and for the town, which opposes Carlson’s efforts to derail the plan. Carlson claims his employees have safety concerns about the facility, and said he’ll move his company out of town if the shooting range is built at the currently proposed site.

The court’s action came after Carlson’s lawyers argued that the ZBA should have considered whether Dragonfly’s project would have a regional impact, and therefore allowed both local Hopkinton residents and representatives of the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission to address their concerns before making its March decision.

In addition, the board should have notified all abutters – including the state’s Department of Transportation and its Division of Forests and Lands – before the hearing to allow representatives of the two organizations to express concerns to the board.

(In a separate action, a couple that rents a small home on the MadgeTech’s land argued that they also should have been notified about the March ZBA hearing and allowed to discuss their concerns about the project.)

The town objected, saying that while no official notification was given to the state agencies, they were aware of the building proposal and had offered no objections. In fact, when the town’s planning board considered Dragonfly’s proposal in June, it invited input from both agencies, and neither indicated that it had any concerns about the project.

The judge’s ruling does not mean that Hopkinton neighbors or the commission representatives will be able to address the ZBA. It simply means that the board must consider the question of whether the project is of regional interest and, if so, allow others to speak at a public hearing.

The decision will also require that the renters be notified in advance of the next hearing and that the two state agencies that own land next to the proposed gun range be notified beforehand.

It’s unclear how the court ruling impacts the planning board’s June approval. If the ZBA reaffirms its March decision on the same grounds, it’s likely that the planners’ decision would stand. But if the case moves in another direction – that is, if information about the possibility of excessive noise or potential pollution concerns are reviewed – then town officials may recommend that the planning board rehear Dragonfly’s application after a ZBA approval.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, N.H., on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017.

 

Construction begins on Warner shooting range project

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – Eric Miller, the Sutton resident who wants to build a $1.4-million, 11,800 square-foot shooting range and retail gun store on Warner Road attended a hearing in the Merrimack County Superior Court several weeks ago. Afterwards, he said he would wait until Judge Richard McNamara had ruled on several appeals from Miller’s abutters before moving ahead with any construction plans. But the entrepreneur had a change of heart.

Miller recently completed the purchase of the 2.9-acre property adjacent to MadgTech, Inc., near exit 7 off Interstate 89, and construction work has already begun on the land.

“If (town officials) are making that kind of commitment, then I need to make an equal amount of commitment to the project.”

– Eric Miller, owner of planed retail gun store/shooting range

 

“I spent a lot of time analyzing all the potential (legal) outcomes and realized that there isn’t really a scenario where I can’t hopefully be able to build,” he said late last week. “I’ve looked at this from every angleand decided that this is worth making this investment… So I pulled the trigger.”

The recent court actions involved appeals from Norman Carlson, the founder and CEO of MadgeTech, Inc., the town’s largest high-tech employer, to halt Miller’s project. Carlson says his employees feel the business will pose a danger to their safety, and he’s threatened to move his 50-plus-workers plant out of town if the project is constructed next to the company land. (In recent weeks, Carlson has been unavailable for comment.)

Earlier this year, both the planning board and the zoning board of adjustment approved Miller’s building proposal. Now, town officials are opposing Carlson’s efforts to have the judge toss out those decisions.

In the Concord superior court last month, Carlson and a couple that rents out a small house on his property asked the court to legally halt Miller’s project. Attorneys argued that the couple was not properly notified by the town about the two land boards’ hearings, and that other legal requirements had not been met. Both Miller’s attorney and the town’s refuted the claims.

However the town officials did ask the judge to order that the ZBA reconvene its public hearing, although only to specifically consider the question of whether the shooting range/gun store facility could be considered to have a regional impact. If it does, some Hopkinton residents who have expressed concerns about the location of the facility, just three miles from Hopkinton Middle High School, as well as representatives of the Central New Hampshire Planning Commission would be allowed to address the zoning board.

The Hopkinton residents (and other people with ties to the area) say they’re concerned about noise from the gallery and the possibility that lead from firearms and ammunition could somehow find its way into the local water supply. Representatives of the planning commission raised concerns about traffic in the neighborhood. Those concerns were discussed at the planning board hearing, but the board members decided that Miller’s plans were sufficient.

On Friday, Miller said that he completed his purchase of the 2.7-acre lot adjacent the Davisville State Forest on Monday, July 17, and that he hired a company to begin preparing the land for construction later that week. He had signed a purchase-and-sales agreement with Richard M. George of Webster earlier this year after Webster outbid Carlson for the land, which was formerly part of the forest.

Miller said that he was especially motivated to move forward with his construction plans after receiving a recent email from Warner officials indicating that they intended to continue their vigorous defense of the two land boards’ rulings.

“So, I thought, if they’re making that kind of commitment, then I needed to make an equal amount of commitment to the project,” Miller said.

Miller said that he’s spent more than $10,000 on legal fees related to the dispute so far, and he expects to spend more in the future.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, N.H., on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017

 

The house sold, but more needs to be done before Warner gets a new firehouse

Above: The residence on the corner of Main Street and Split Rock Road will be moved in anticipation of a new stationhouse for the Warner Fire Department.

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – The town’s Fire Station Building Review Committee has sold the house that currently sits on land where town officials hope to someday build a new stationhouse for the fire department.

Chairman Allen N. Brown announced at a meeting in the town hall last week that the board of selectmen recently agreed to sell the 50-year-old private residence on the corner of Main Street and Split Rock Road to area resident Bob Irving for $337. The property was purchased by the town last year and no one is living in the house at this time.

Selectman Kimberley Edelmann confirmed on Saturday that Irving’s tentative plans call the structure to be moved soon to another location in town. “We didn’t want to tear it down,” she said, noting that the building is in relatively good shape.

Community leaders have been studying the idea of building a new facility for the fire department and emergency management operations for some time now. Officials say that the current station on Main Street is too small and inadequate for modern use.

The committee has been working with Anthony Mento, a Warner resident and project manager with Sherr, McCrystal, Palson (SMP) Architecture, Inc., of Concord, and North Branch Construction of Concord, on the proposed project.

Tentative plans would call for constructing a brick building that would be approximately 11,00-square feet and include offices and meeting space for emergency management and training, as well as fire department purposes. At last year’s annual town meeting, voters approved a $100,000 request to move the project forward with the goal of presenting a complete building proposal to residents for consideration at the 2018 March town meeting. Early estimates pegged the final price of the project at more than $2.5-million.

But exactly when the old residence will be moved is not yet clear, according to Ed Mical, the town’s emergency management director.

On Saturday, Mical said he’s planning to apply for a Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) grant that could help pay for some equipment (including computers, telephones, desks and chairs) for the proposed building’s emergency management operations. But the grant application stipulates that before new construction begins, there must be an environmental and historical evaluation of the current property. A certified historic expert has reviewed the land and building, he said, and now state officials must consider the findings and forward a recommendation to FEMA.

“Until we get their (FEMA’s) okay, we can’t touch the property,” explained Edelman.

Meanwhile, the town is scheduled to begin test borings on the site on August 2.

At last week’s meeting, the building committee agreed on several other important aspects of the proposed building project, according to Edelmann. One is the basic room design in the one-story building. Another insures that the garage space will have clear span throughout. And, finally, environmental issues have led to the group’s choice of an exterior concrete wall system that will be somewhat thicker than earlier proposals.

The group did not agree on a proposal from the town’s energy committee to hire an outside consultant to review the building plans with an eye towards insuring energy effectiveness. Mento of SMP said that his company supported the idea and agreed with the energy group’s recommendation. Several committee members said they chose the company specifically because they understood that the firm was able to provide energy-related expertise.

Mento said that SMP does have a good body of energy-related knowledge but acknowledge more specific issues could be addressed by an outside consultant.

Chairman Brown noted that the committee is working from a “bare bones” budget provided by the selectmen, and that there wasn’t money to hire an outside energy consultant right now.

After some discussion, the group agreed to review a list of possible consultants that the energy committee would supply before making a final decision soon.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, N.H., Tuesday, July 18, 2017. NOTE: The print edition, and an earlier version published here, incorrectly listed the price of the home. It is $337; the earlier, much larger, figure  reflected information provided by a town official. We apologize for the error. 

 

 

A prize and new plans keep things happening in Warner

(Above:) Tentative plans for phase #3 of the development of the Jim Mitchell Community Park and Amphitheater in Warner calls for the creation of an educational “edible landscape” space.

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – In 2004, the nonprofit organization PlanNH came to town to hold a Community Planning and Design Charette. Katharine Nevins, the owner of Main Street BookEnds, recalled the free event as a special time where both community leaders and residents got together to discuss ways to make the town better.

“We talked about what we wanted to do with the exit 9 (off Interstate 89) area,” she recalled. “What did we see as our strengths? What did we want to do with the downtown, with access to the river, all those kinds of things.”

By that time, Nevins’ brother Jim Mitchell, who co-owned the store with his sister and her husband Neil Nevins, had already begun dreaming about a three-season community park adjacent to the store where the arts could be continually celebrated and advanced. “The charrette reinvigorated the idea, that this is what the town needed, what the community needed,” Nevins recalled. “It needed a focal point for things going on.”

Mitchell died suddenly in 2008, but his family and others associate with the MainStreet Warner nonprofit organization kept the idea alive. Today, the Jim Mitchell Community Park and Amphitheater is a local landmark, a spot for seasonal concerts, theatrical productions and various community events.

And now PlanNH has returned to the give a Merit Award for Excellence in Planning, Design, and Development to MainStreet Warner, Inc., for the creation of the park. The award also recognizes Pellettieri Associates of Warner for the design and construction of the project, which includes the post-and-beam stage designed and built by Peter Ladd, Robert Shoemaker and Charlie Betz.

‘It’s as if the late Jim Mitchell’s town slogan still hovers over the community: There’s something wonderful happening in Warner.’

“It means a great deal to us, to myself and the other (MainStreet Warner) board members to receive this award,” Nevins said. “PlanNH recognizes quality community development in towns and city in New Hampshire. It’s based on sustainability practices and giving back to the community, those kinds of things. For this group to come back and give us this award now, is very special.”

It’s been nine years since the park construction project began, converting an underutilized, slope-challenged, open space into a popular multi-use open park, she said.

And the work is still ongoing, Nevins explained.

“Where the (store’s) solar panels are there’s an asphalt driveway because the building used to be a bank and that was part of the drive-thru,” she said. “All of that asphalt – the plan is for that to come up this summer and that whole section next to the building, underneath the solar panels all the way out to Main Street, will be turned into an example of a living, edible landscape.”

When it’s finished, the area should include raised plant beds, rainwater irrigation, a composting area and educational resources. “Next year, we’ll involve the school and the whole community,” she added.

It’s as if the late Jim Mitchell’s town slogan still hovers over the community: “There’s something wonderful happening in Warner.”

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record, Sutton, N.H., on July 11, 2017.

 

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