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I sent a list of questions to each member of the Town Council at the email addresses listed on the Town Council website. Not one question was answered.
I forwarded those same questions to the Church Community Housing Corporation (CCH), and they answered some, but not all of my questions. The most important question, in my mind, is: Who will have control of the application process for residents moving into the affordable housing – the Town of Portsmouth or the CCH?
I sent an email to Lisa Lasky, Finance Director for the Town, asking the following questions (no acknowledgement has been received to date):
- Has the Town of Portsmouth ever applied for a grant to revitalize or restore Ann Hutchinson School? I would consider it mismanagement if they did not. I obtained a grant for the Town of Tiverton when I lived there, and the process is not that hard.
- Has the Town ever applied for grants to restore houses of historic significance? Ann Hutchinson School was built in 1928. Many of us Sr. Citizens attended school there and I would love to see it restored to its original architectural design, with an entrance and elevator in the back of the building to allow access to the 2nd floor.
Thinking of the long-term benefits to our Town: The refurbished building can be used by other organizations (such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Town Howlers square dancers who have used it in the past). The very fact that there is no suitable site in Portsmouth where the Sr. Center can move shows the need to keep Ann Hutchinson School as a meeting place for physical exercise, craft workshops, fund-raising events, dinner dances, recitals, lunch programs, etc.
The stalling tactics by the Town Council and their unwillingness to have discussions, in my opinion, demonstrates their determination to do what they want to do in our Town. The fact that Mr. Rainer told the state Fire Marshall in 2020 that he was closing the building and it was going to be demolished indicates he believes he has total control over this Town.
I respectfully request that a copy of the CCH Master Plan proposal (submitted by CCH to the Town of Portsmouth) be provided to Friends of the Senior Center (FSC) for review prior to the public meetings. This would enable the FSC to be prepared to discuss important issues, in accordance with Section 902 of the Town Charter.