FROM OUR READERS
The iconic Rogers school building gifted to the Town in 1895 was the epicenter for education to all children no matter what religion or background thanks to our town benefactor Henry H Rogers for more than 123 years. Its fate is now in our hands at town meeting.
I have long advocated and stood for due diligence in transparency in all financial aspects as we face the future of this landmark. There are no do-overs or wish we coulda, woulda, shoulda, for once it’s gone, it is gone forever. We must get it right, think it through and not be rushed into any decision. Our present and future is at stake.
We have never had any true accounting as to the costs and possibilities of what it would take for town re-use of the building or a knowledgeable financial basis to negotiate with various developers. What tax credits, historic credits, and other sources of funding could be applicable to the Rogers School?
For example, in the Oxford proposal we have seen over 1 million dollars coming from historic preservation credits, grants and tax credits. But this has been unexplored in the case of the Rogers School. Instead numbers have been tossed around freely like dice in a back alley which have no truth to them at all, just simply tossed out there.
The residents deserve the respect and demand much more than that. We need an in-depth evaluation which includes actual financial costs and factors if the town were to utilize this building or for a developer to take the building. Otherwise we are operating with blinders on.
Yes, the study will cost us money up front, but the return on investment should more than make up the cost. We will have a clear understanding of actual costs and what funding sources would be available. There is a historic grant potentially available for this developmental study to help defray some of the costs. Should we go the developer route, the study would be critical to the developer in creating a final plan to present for approval.
We are told we don’t need the space or funding; then why are we considering rehabbing an old EMA building for a cost of $660,000 to 1 million dollars? Tripp School has structural issues which will cost many dollars in engineering studies. Why not consider leasing out space and get revenues for the town? Could the Rogers School not be used for this?
We have to get away from a compartmentalized way of thinking and review the entire town and ask: What is the policy plan and future for our town?
Economic development is a big topic these days. Could not a tourism office with space and a Government Access Channel Office [with] the ability to showcase our town be used?
This would increase tourism making Fairhaven a destination spot, increase foot traffic for stores, which means more money spent at area shops and restaurants. What about revenue generated from office space leased out for small business owners or a Town Hall Annex with ample space. If the town hall has sufficient office space then why are there boxes piled up in front of the 3rd floor window facing the library?
These scenarios are not the only possibilities. A correct developer project could be the answer too. But we don’t know the answers because we never had the In-depth evaluation done giving us the actual financial numbers and a clear picture of the possibilities and pathways.
How can we make a truly informed decision if we don’t have all the facts? Simply put, we cannot.
This building embodies the historical integrity of the town and fellow residents. We urge the town members to vote YES on Article 7 [on the Special Town Meeting Warrant] to get all the facts and information needed so that we the current and future residents will benefit.
Fairhaven Town Meeting Members:
Doug Brady, Pct 4; Nils Isaksen, Pct 4; Leonard Benoit, Pct 1; Rosalina Benoit, Pct 1; Daniel Silvia, Pct 5; Keith Silvia, Pct 5; Nick Costa, Pct 4; Tom Silvia, Pct 5; Arne Ole Anderson, Pct 6; Leslie Trot, Pct 5; Dave DeSouza, Pct 6; Al Benac, Pct 4; Cathy Delano, Pct 1; Sue Loo, Pct 1; Lee Baumgartner, Pct 4