To the Editor:
The Marion Selectmen have recently decided to evaluate the use of Community Preservation Funds for a separate study group to now explore building a new Town House on the VFW site.
We are frustrated and puzzled by this plan. The Selectmen have previously instructed the Town House Building Committee that Community Preservation Funds may only be used for our additional exploration of renovation designs and not for new design.
This decision directly contradicts their prior reasoning. Such a plan undermines the integrity of the Town House Building Committee and the professional consultant team who continue to conduct a fair and unbiased study of the issue.
The final site selection cannot be based solely on construction costs. Liz Brainard has recently outlined the many important aspects of keeping the Town House functions at their current location: vitality of the village center; convenience and proximity to other commercial and community activities; and ease of pedestrian access. In addition, preservation of one of the town’s most historically and architecturally significant structures adds much intrinsic value to the town’s historic character and charm. This cannot be measured in dollar value alone, especially when new construction is unlikely to reduce costs significantly.
The Town House Building Committee continues to review and compare options for both renovation on Spring Street and new construction at the VFW site. Considerable funding has been allocated to this effort over the past five years. Scaled-back programming and reduced size are now being considered, per the Selectmen’s direction. We request the continued support of the Selectmen and the community to complete our charge, not to dismantle our progress with yet another committee and the improper use of Community Preservation Funds for a study on new development.
Wayne Mattson, Bob Raymond, and Meg Steinberg
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