American Legion Post offers land for new Greenwood Town Office
Jackson-Silver Legion Post 68 has offered to donate a plot of land adjacent to its hall for a new Greenwood Town Office.
Selectmen discussed the offer Tuesday at their regular meeting.
For the past two years a Building Committee has been researching options for either renovating the current, century-old office on the Bird Hill Road or building a new one there or elsewhere.
The current office has mold and other problems, and after officials determined extensive work would be required to remedy them, that option was ruled out.
Town Manager Kim Sparks said that last week she, the committee, Selectman Arnie Jordan and Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman looked at the Legion site on the Gore Road. An office could be built on the right side of the hall (looking from the road), Sparks said.
The structure could either be attached to the Legion Hall or separate from it.
If built as an addition, there would likely be fewer town requirements for a permit, said Sparks. But fire insurance could be more expensive because of the connection between the buildings.
With a free-standing building, a separate septic system might be needed, she said, but an addition could likely share the Legion’s system. Selectmen said, however, that having a separate septic plan on file in the event the Legion system failed might suffice.
Sparks said the Building Committee was scheduled to meet yesterday (Wednesday) and next Wednesday, and would compile a list of pros and cons for the two options, with costs, to bring to selectmen at their April 16 meeting.
Selectboard Chair Fred Henderson said he thought that “in the long run it would be better to have a separate building.”
The town has budgeted $130,000 from the undesignated surplus fund for the building project, Sparks said.
She said no lot size has yet been determined. The proposal will be brought to the May 18 annual town meeting.
Sparks said later the town was contacted recently by Legion Commander Wayne Hakala about the land offer, and town officials met with the Legion board.
A public hearing on the building issue will take place April 23 at 5 p.m.
In other business Tuesday, the board decided to add to the town meeting warrant an article asking if residents wish to raise $1,038 to help support the Mollyockett Days festival in Bethel.
The funds are requested by the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the annual celebration. BACC is changing the event to make it more respectful of Native Americans, and also wants to draw in the larger region where the Native American Mollyockett lived in the 1800s.
The plans call for more involvement by native peoples and their art, music and other culture, in order to make them more visible and a part of the larger community. But that plan is more expensive, and support is being sought from Bethel and other area towns in the form of $1.25 per person per town, collected through taxes.
“It is a fact that a lot of people from this town go to Mollyockett Days,” said Selectman Amy Chapman.
Jordan was skeptical of raising the money.
“I guess I’m not completely against that, but I think I disagree in that we can’t afford the added amount that they’re asking for. And I’m not sure I agree completely with the way they’re trying to change the meaning of Mollyockett Days,” he said. “I don’t think past Mollyockett Days were that far out of line and I didn’t think it showed any disrespect for Mollyockett the person.
“Now they’re trying to tie this in with the Indians not getting respect in the past, and the fact that the state at some point took their children away from them, I don’t condone that in any way, but I don’t know that that’s a reason to change the whole meaning of Mollyockett Days.”
Chapman said her initial reaction had been similar to Jordan’s. But she then offered selectmen an analogy to a celebration of an African-American person in which the tradition might be to dress up in ways that would be offensive to people of that heritage.
“You have to put yourself in their place and if there are people who feel offended, or feel that their culture was totally disrupted by the government, and if this reminds them of it and they feel offended by it, then I think you have to at least take that into consideration,” she said. “Just because you assume something might be OK, it might not be.”
“I’m not against taking it to town meeting,” said Jordan. “I’m not going to recommend we pay the full price.”
Selectmen decided against placing a proposal for a commercial wind ordinance on the town meeting warrant for this year. The Planning Board has been crafting such a document, but the selectmen agreed to ask planners to study the wind ordinance recently approved in Woodstock for comparison.
Jordan said he did not think Greenwood’s current draft is nearly as strict as Woodstock’s regarding the setback (one mile) to abutting properties.
“I’m wondering if ours is as strict as it should be,” he said.
Sparks said the Planning Board “wasn’t trying to prevent [turbines] from going up. They just want to get some regulations around commercial ones, that with the possibility of them going up, there’d be some regulation.”
Chapman said, “I hope people wouldn’t just go for [the current Greenwood proposal] assuming that the Planning Board thinks this is all we need, and then be unhappy because it doesn’t prevent something.”
Sparks said later a proposal would be brought to a future town meeting.
Other actions taken at Tuesday’s meeting included: denying a request to build a canoe rack on a pond out of concern about liability and vandalism; approving a name change for Duguay Lane to Rocky Lane; supporting a resolution opposing Gov. Paul LePage’s budget (which would reduce revenue sharing and other funds to towns); scheduling a public hearing on the proposed municipal budget for April 23 (to coincide with the building hearing); and dedicating the annual town report to Wayne and Anita Hakala.