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Should the Old Town House Be Renovated?

You tell us - should an elevator and handicapped bathrooms be installed in the Old Town House?

A proposed project aimed at making Marblehead's universally accessible, in last year's , will be revisited at Town Meeting next month.

The $667,000 project, which calls for the installation of a three-story elevator and two handicapped bathrooms, was the only question voted down in last year's election. It was defeated 3,567 to 2,530.

The Old Town House dates back to before the American Revolution and is not currently handicapped accessible, meaning it cannot be used for public meetings or as a polling location, as it had been for more than two centuries.

At last year's Town Meeting, residents were shown a brief PowerPoint presentation detailing plans to make the building accessible to all residents and those in attendance voted in favor of appropriating $667,793 for it by an overwhelming margin of 571 to 45. 

At the meeting, proponents for the accessibility project argued that the cost to each Marblehead household would only be about $64 to fund the project and some shared stories of occasions when disabled town residents and visitors couldn't tour the building because they simply couldn't get up the stairs.

Those speaking out against the renovations argued that the project was unnecessary and questioned whether or not the 285-year-old building is strong enough to support a modern elevator system.

2011 Special Town Election results, Question 1, precinct-by-precinct:

Precinct P1 P2 P3 P4 P5 P6 P7 TOTAL Yes 476 269 255 365 413 439 313 2,530 No 426 449 399 551 525 576 641 3,567

Where do you stand on this issue? Let us know by sharing your opinion in our comments section and by voting in the poll below.

Sharon Thibodeau April 23, 2012 at 11:06 PM
It should definitely be renovated. I agree with Chris Johnston in his support of this project. It's a disgrace that one of the most historically important buildings in town is closed to the public. For less than the cost of dinner out per household or a gallon of bottom paint, this project can go ahead. Shame on Marblehead if this doesn't pass this year.
Sheila McCredy April 23, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Hear! Hear! Well put, M Gotschall. "when we have the opportunity to make one of Marblehead's most treasured buildings AVAILABLE TO ALL OF ITS CITIZENS," WE SHOULD TAKE IT. PLEASE VOTE. And please VOTE YES for this article! Just one more thing, please: "on the Edge of THE Old Town" Thank you for your support.
William Peach April 24, 2012 at 02:04 PM
It should but we should not have to do it through and over ride. It is not that much money that it can't be planned for in our annual budget. Maybe we can use the money we saved on snow plowing this year for it!
John Buba April 24, 2012 at 03:00 PM
This issue has failed twice, not because it is a bad idea, but because the pubic realizes that regular maintenance is an ongoing cost, not something to fund via an override. It is not like lightening struck the building; it just was allowed to deteriorate. That is the Selectmen's fault and now they want you to bail them out while they spend more and more money on salaries and benefits (over 80% of the budget.) NO overrides for operating expenses. The same thing goes for the drains override. Yes we need them; but the town NEVER plans to fix things that have a useful life. They wait for an emergency and then claim they need an override. Yet every year they get millions more from Prop 2 1/2 and just as quickly as they get it they spend it on salaries and benefits.
Sheila McCredy April 26, 2012 at 02:07 AM
WHIP! Mr. Bubba, DOWN BUCKET: Making the Town House "AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE" is NOT a maintenance issue! NEW RENOVATIONS are needed to make this possible. Our selectmen have never been perfect but they have ALWAYS had OUR interest at heart and do their job well. I have also concluded that your not a town employee. With the cost of living going up, wages and benefits need to keep pace. I'm sure you would want that for yourself. Right? To all town employees, your not perfect either, but KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! Our town is not having the financial difficulties that some of our neighbors are experiencing. Thanks to good fiscal responsibility. I can't believe the restraint I am using to write this reply. I'm a senior citizen on a limited income, a taxpayer, a townie, and I really take exception to the way you think about our town and how it's run. It's very negative. Are you sure Marblehead is right for you? Put your vote where your mouth is, and come to TOWN MEETING - and the POLLS. This your chance. OK, everyone, UP FOR AIR

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