CHESTER – After removing funding for a bathhouse restoration project from the Wason Pond Commission’s budget earlier this budget season, the selectmen also put aside a warrant article for the same matter, which was forwarded to them recently by the commission.
In February the Wason Pond Commission presented the bathhouse project along with its budget. Though there was talk about making the work a warrant article, that money eventually went into the regular budget. But last month, at a meeting between the selectmen and budget committee, the selectmen removed funding for the work, about $10,000.
In response, the commission recently sent a warrant article request for the funds. The commission is made up of members of the recreation and conservation commissions, the budget committee, board of selectmen and a member at large.
Selectmen have said this season that they did not want to turn down warrant articles given to them, in order to give all voters a chance at considering them.
But on Thursday, April 10, the board turned down three recently acquired articles, saying they were not brought up in a timely manner.
The deadline for selectmen to post the warrant, given by the state for a May town meeting, is April 28. April 8 was the deadline for petition warrant articles.
According to the Wason Pond Commission’s article request, they had not been made aware of the funding cut. Commission chair Patrick Connelly said the commission created and presented the article as soon as it could. He explained that the commission is a group of volunteers who must respond and make decisions as a group, and typically meets just once a month.
“We responded in as timely a manner as we could,” said Connelly.
There had previously been confusion over whether the Wason Pond commission or the recreation commission was in charge of the bathhouse, but a recent review of the master plan for the Wason Pond Recreation and Conservation Area found the responsibility was given to the Wason Pond Commission. Representatives from the two groups recently met with the selectmen to say all were in agreement.
At the April 10 meeting, selectman chair Steph Landau said warrant articles from town departments and groups were asked for by April 1. Based on that timeline, he said, he made a motion not to accept the article. It was agreed to unanimously.
Selectman Rich LeBlanc said it was his understanding the selectmen had made the decision to leave the bathhouse as a storage facility, but Landau disagreed that there was any final decision on the matter.
Selectman Joe Hagan said that with a roof replacement planned for the building this coming year, the structure would be kept in reasonable shape if those in favor of a renovation wanted to make their case next year.
Contacted after the meeting, Connelly said the matter was not a big deal, but he thought the selectmen could have allowed the article to go through in order to let the townspeople decide on the matter. As is it stands, he said, the selectmen seem to want to be the gatekeepers for that work.
In February the commission explained that the commission wanted to fix the windows, doors, ceiling, and flooring; bring electricity back and paint the structure. This would create a place where, among other uses, the summer recreation program participants would not have to change their clothes in tents, explained Connelly then.
At that time Landau had said he was in favor of the project.