Safety Complex Wrong Location for Meetings
I am writing this as resident not as any committee member or paid coordinator for RCTV. During the past two summers the Board of Selectmen chose to meet at the Fire Station “Torrent Hall”. This was because the room is air-conditioned and the High School library is not. Recently, the Selectmen voted with minimal discussion to permanently move their meetings there, giving no defined reason as to what was wrong with meeting at the High School. It is my opinion that Torrent Hall and the Safety Complex is NOT an appropriate place for weekly public meetings. It was never designed or intended to be so.
The parking is limited and many spots reserved (as appropriate) for emergency personnel. There are minimal handicap spots and access to the entry in winter is marginal especially for handicap residents. If people are to park across the street are they going to cross Old Manchester road in the dark with snow and ice?
The room is set up for safety personnel training. With tables and chairs and an overhead that faces in the opposite direction from the board. There is no sound system so people in the back of the room cannot always hear speakers. Presenters and flipchart type material cannot be viewed by residents. The furniture has to be re-arranged every time that there is a meeting. There is no other place to go if the room is filled to capacity. Bathrooms are limited. The Safety Complex should be a secure location. And who knows what will happen if there is a major incident such as a structure fire or motor vehicle accident? I do not believe it is a safe place to conduct town public business.
The High School on the other hand has numerous handicap and regular parking slots. Well maintained and well lit. It has easy wide access, suitable bathrooms, space outside of the meeting room for those who need to discuss an issue, a conference room for non public sessions. In the event the room was over crowded, there are procedures for relocating to the dining room or gym. The Selectmen paid to have the room wired for a PA system in the back so attendees can hear. Multiple cameras are installed to ensure good coverage for broadcasting and recording of the meetings. The School Board and all other town committees meet there or in the Home Ec room downstairs. The School District has been very accommodating to ensure the spaces are available even during school holidays and snow closures. Arrangements were made many years ago to hold town public meetings at the High School because there was inadequate room for the public at the town office. The High School IS owned by the people of Raymond.
In order to properly cover regular meetings at the Safety Complex new equipment will need to be purchased and installed. This money will come from the Cable TV Fund. Yes the money is there. But is it the right place to spend it? Where will the equipment for a multiple camera, multiple microphone system be installed. What if next year’s board votes to move back to the High School?
I encourage the Board to re-address this decision, to consult the Department heads responsible for the building, Police, Fire, Public works and Ambulance Association. I would reach out to the residents, the ones you encourage to participate in our town government and see if they think the Safety complex is the appropriate place for weekly town government meetings. If you agree that town boards should not meet on a regular basis at Torrent Hall, please call, write or email one of your Selectman or the Town Manager at 895-4735. Email addresses are available at http://www.raymondnh.gov/phonelist.php.