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Library reuse thoughts and comments

September 30, 2010

Editor’s Note: Selectman Cliff Snuffer confirmed to 180 that he does not intend to run for Town Moderator next year. Apparently there were rumors that he was considering running for the seat.

Today The Walpole Times published an article (available here) about the library reuse options.

After years of passionate discourse over Walpole’s apparent perennial lack of municipal buildings (i.e. library, police station, senior center), it amazes me that the first time a building like this would become available, as has happened now, the first thing Selectmen would think of turning it into would be senior housing, of all things.

The library is located in a prime area of Walpole, a block from downtown and the rest of our municipal buildings. I find it concerning that such a nice building as this is quickly being written off as the type of building that is most feasible as housing.

I hope that rather than making rash decisions about the reuse of this building, our Selectmen will actually take their time on this. For example, I am 100% in support of using this building as a senior center. There is not a lack of parking at the facility – the funeral home director across the street has said before he is amenable to opening his parking lot for use at special events, and the street – my street, Lewis Avenue – is always available for parking, as it always is every time there is a funeral or special library event. The building is large enough to function as a senior center and will allow us to save money down the road by not having to invest in a brand new senior center somewhere else in town.

Relegating our senior center to the outer reaches of the DPW yard on Washington Street, for example, as has been proposed most recently, seems like a really bad idea. It is not often that we have an unused municipal building located on such prime real estate near downtown and Town Hall. Selectmen should not squander this opportunity by using it for, of all things, senior housing.

Again, as was mentioned in the article, I don’t think anyone, including me, is vehemently against senior housing in that location. But it seems like a ridiculous proposal, given the constant complaining this town does about how we supposedly don’t have enough facilities for other uses.

On another note, I am pleased to see that Selectmen have admitted that, according to the article, “the board failed residents recently with a lack of communication on important development issues – most notably in the proposals for a power plant, new bio-safety zoning and a new police station.” It is incredible that the Board of Selectmen has finally realized this.

In any case, it is good to hear that the Board intends to be transparent on all issues from now on. 180 will hold Selectmen to that commitment.

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