Goffstown Year in review 2007
GOFFSTOWN - A new year brought back some old problems in Goffstown as flooding was once again a major issue.
There was also continued debate about the effectiveness of roundabouts, how to make recycling profitable and many other issues.
In January, the Board of Selectmen voted to record the roll call on votes, reversing an earlier decision that sparked statewide attention. A warrant article petition on the topic, submitted before the selectmen’s decision, passed in the town election.
The March town elections saw the ouster of longtime incumbent Selectman Bruce Hunter and the election of former Selectman Vivian Blondeau and former School Board member Scott Gross to the Board of Selectmen.
Voters approved the town’s $16.8 million operating budget along with tax exemptions for the elderly and the addition of the road plan to next year’s operating budget. For the second year in a row, they defeated a proposal for 24/7 fire and EMT coverage, with 10 new full-time firemen and two articles for a tax increment finance district along Mast Road, although the selectmen were granted the authority to set up TIF districts.
The article to provide municipal water to the neighborhoods around the Danis Park/Lynchville area, an issue stretching back 40 years although this was the first article introduced on it, narrowly missed the 60 percent it needed, since it was a bonded project, to pass. Recounts on the TIF and water articles upheld the results.
The school’s operating budget and articles – a five-year teacher’s contract, new contract with support staff and $300,000 for Bartlett Elementary School renovations – all received voter approval.
The property tax rate, set in October at $24.70 per $1,000 assessed value, remained almost level with the previous year because of a drop in the school portion of the tax that offset the increase in the town portion.
Elderly exemptions and land use change tax changes accounted for 22 cents of the 59-cent increase in the town portion. A larger than expected adequacy grant and lower than expected expenditures caused a 59-cent decrease in the school portion.
On April 16, Goffstown and surrounding towns were hit with another 100-year flood for the second year in a row. Thirty residents were evacuated and 82 homes were declared uninhabitable.
Gov. John Lynch visited Danis Park and Lynchville areas, which saw significant flooding again and had many homeowners that had just rebuilt from last year’s flood.
Damage to local infrastructure was estimated at $360,000.
Nineteen Goffstown residents applied for a FEMA funded buyout program in November.
Colombe Ouellette, who celebrated her 108th birthday in March and was bearer of the Boston Post Cane for 12 years, died April 30. The town is searching for a new candidate for the Boston Post Cane, a distinction given to Goffstown’s oldest resident.
The controversial and long awaited $420,000 Grasmere roundabout was finally completed this summer. The selectmen declared a temporary moratorium on roundabouts until after the completion of the structure. Two more roundabouts, at Wallace and Mast Road, and Pleasant Street and Mast Road, were under consideration.
Goffstown resident and former Rye Fire Chief Richard O’Brien was hired as the new fire chief for Goffstown, beginning in July. His hiring followed six months with an interim chief and three often tumultuous years with Chief Frank Carpentino.
Carpentino’s position was eliminated in November 2005 when the selectmen attempted to consolidate police, fire and EMT services, and was reinstated by a Superior Court Judge’s ruling and an overwhelming majority vote in the 2006 town elections but left at the end of 2006. At Rye, O’Brien oversaw the transition of his department into to the unified Rye Public Safety building. His goal in Goffstown, he said, was, whenever someone called 911, to provide service in the shortest amount of time.
Goffstown High School and SAU 19 Superintendent Darrell Lockwood received criticism from parents for SAT scores that were lower than the national average. GHS scored an average of 496 in math, 498 in reading, 478 in writing – each out of a possible 800 – compared to 518 in math, 503 in reading and 497 in writing nationally.
The Goffstown school district passed its Adequate Yearly Progress report. Lockwood said the test can be a useful starting point for improvement, but the reality is a lot more complex than the scores.
Renovations at Grasmere Town Hall remain cosmetic ones until a trustee can be authorized by voters to access money allotted for more significant repairs such as the second story, according to Historic District Commission member Elizabeth Dubrulle.
Glen Lake passed a Department of Environmental Services test and regular municipal tests for E. coli levels this summer, after the community experienced an E. coli scare in 2006 that closed Glen Lake for several weeks.
Bruce Hunter, a three-term selectman and state representative for more than 18 years, died Sept. 23 at the age of 74 after a lengthy illness. Hunter, a veteran of the United States Navy, worked many years as an ambulance driver in Boston before retiring in 1983 and moving to Goffstown. He was remembered as a “good natured and dedicated selectman and state representative.”
The new Ace Hardware store building, more than triple its original size, opened in September in Goffstown Village.
Among the new features of the store was a green, energy efficient geothermal heating and cooling system.
The recycling rate, currently at 30 percent of Goffstown’s solid waste, remained relatively impervious to attempts to raise it higher, despite various awareness efforts and a letter campaign by Solid Waste Commission Chairman Fred Plett.
A contract with new recycling vendor Integrated Paper Recyclers, recommended to the selectmen in October, could save the town $100,000 and even net a profit, according to the commission.
The operating budget sent by the Board of Selectmen to the Budget Committee was about $460,000 more than the 2007 operating budget. Significant cuts in department head requests include the Police Department proposal for three new patrol officers and a reduction in the roads reclamation project.
This year’s Pumpkin Regatta in October had about 4,000 attendees and saw giant pumpkin boats with themes such as the “USS Roundabout,” manned by Selectman John Caprio, a “cat-a-pult” by Glen Lake Animal Hospital, a Roman chariot driven by Goffstown High School Dean of Students Todd Lavallee and a banana boat from Mountain View Middle School.
The $2.5 million expansion and renovation of the YMCA Allard Center, featuring a new dance studio, rock climbing room, gymnastics gymnasium, and fitness center, was completed in October and dedicated in November.
The project caused much concern with abutters and neighboring residents from the Medvil Cooperative, made up of the Village of Glen Falls and Medford Farms, two 55-andolder communities, that feared detrimental effects from storm water runoff and light pollution.
After initial differences, Goffstown and Weare agreed to request a special election in conjunction with the 2008 March town elections to fill the seat of longtime District 7 state Rep. Bruce Hunter, who died Sept. 23. The filing period runs Dec. 24 to 31, and the primary will be Feb. 5.
At the New Hampshire Women’s Prison, authorities acknowledged overcrowding was a problem. More than 30 inmates were transferred to the Strafford County House of Corrections in Dover in November. Acting warden Joanne Fortier was officially appointed warden in October.
An initiative by the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission to designate parts of Route 13 in Goffstown and New Boston, Route 77 and Route 114 in Weare, and Route 77 and Route 13 in Dunbarton as the General John Stark Scenic Byway, to generate tourism and historic interest in the area, passed easily in all four towns.
In a highly emotionally charged series of meetings in December with Villa Augustina School parents, faculty and School Board members, the Religious of Jesus and Mary, the order of nuns that founded and directed the school for nearly nine decades, announced it could no longer financially support the school and would be closing it at the end of the academic year unless another group could come up with at least $1.2 million needed for capital improvements.
In a separate meeting, Villa parents organized a transition leadership team and were buoyed by the announcement of pledges up to $310,000 by anonymous donors.
Reproduced by the Goffstown