Editorial: Don’t give up on town hall, Bradford
Bradford should make every effort to reopen its town hall, closed for a couple years for want of money to maintain and refurbish it. Earlier this month, by a 228-224 vote, Bradford residents rejected the selectmen’s request to spend $1.8 million to restore it. The vote was not as close as it sounds, since it takes a two-thirds vote to pass a bond. High property taxes and a slow economy make the vote understandable, but we hope residents in favor of putting the building back in service keep the roof sound and don’t give up.
New Hampshire continues to be at risk of losing its history. Few structures are more iconic than its town halls. We urge Bradford residents to invest what it takes to prevent the town hall from deteriorating while a less costly plan to renovate is pursued.
Bradford is hardly alone in its struggle to preserve its community heritage. A similar effort has been under way for years in Dunbarton. That community’s beautiful town hall is open on a limited basis as a library, but its elegant upper floor needs work and isn’t accessible for those with disabilities. Epsom’s meeting house awaits restoration, as does Hillsboro’s library, a mansion once owned by a New Hampshire governor.
The list goes on and on. Every addition to it speaks to the importance of passing a state budget that includes full funding for the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, whose mission is to help communities preserve their historic buildings and protect threatened lands.
New Hampshire is a tourist state. Visitors don’t come here to look at new municipal buildings. Every community owes it to itself, and to its future residents, to preserve its town halls and other historic structures. But nearly every community needs a little help in the form of a grant from LCHIP, another organization or a benefactor, to make it happen.
NOTE: This editorial was updated on April 18, 2013, to correct a figure in the opening paragraph.