Pelham - Windham News August 13, 2010 - 3
More Aggressive Marketing Planned for Searles Building
by Barbara O’Brien The century-old stone building located off Range Road in Windham is considered one of the town’s historic treasures. It also serves as a quaint and appealing function hall for both town and private events; something which members of the Historic Committee, as well as other officials, want to see marketed more aggressively. In 1909, the Town of Windham took ownership of the newly constructed Searles School and Chapel from a man believed to be one of its most eccentric residents, Edward Francis Searles. The building, built at a cost of approximately $40,000, and the land on which it rests, was offered as a trade for the Town’s School House No. 1. Constructed of granite in the Tudor style, the Searles building was designed with a multitude of exquisite details, including: cathedral-style cypress ceilings and matching cypress paneling throughout, hand-carved arched doorways, and intricate stained-glass windows. A large tower was erected centrally to connect the chapel room and the schoolroom, with a stone entryway between. Within the tower, 12 melodious carillons of sandblasted bronze were installed. Narrow twisting staircases connect the floors above the foyer. A full kitchen, bathrooms, and other various rooms are located in the basement of the building. Over the years, the building was home to
Sunday services and elementary school students, and for a number of years, the Windham Cooperative Kindergarten. As its occupancy changed, many of the building’s intricate charms were hidden from site, however. Suspended ceilings were hung and linoleum laid, hiding away the original ceilings, floors, and cathedral- style tops of the stained-glass windows. Eventually, structural issues caused the building
to fall vacant and the monumental task of its restoration was undertaken by the Windham Historic Committee. Through donations and with
the support of taxpayers, committee members restored the building structurally, then tackled the chapel room, a process that revealed the original beauty of the building. In 1996, the chapel was complete and the building’s newest era as a function facility began. In 2004, restoration of the main hall was also completed, making for the full splendor that is the Searles School and Chapel available to enjoy. There are currently two funding mechanisms used to pay for the upkeep of the Searles building: the town operating budget and the Searles Special Revenue Fund. The town operating budget includes annual funding to pay for heat, electricity, telephone (answering service), and minor maintenance. During the past few years, that budget has ranged from a high of $20,150 in 2009 to a low of $14,340 for the current year. The Searles Special Revenue Fund includes an annual appropriation intended to cover any marketing, as well as maintenance costs involved in renting the building for functions. Historically, the special revenue fund has been an annual allocation of $12,000. In addition, a $12,000 annual bond payment is made; this loan having been taken out to pay for the building renovations undertaken during the 1990s. In recent years, additional funds up to $8,000 were also appropriated at annual Town Meetings whenever sufficient revenues were available. The projected revenue for the Searles building for 2010 is about $20,000, down somewhat from recent prior years. The cause of this drop in revenue is the ongoing lagging economy. In 2006, the building brought in $25,791 from function rentals. Last year, the revenue from rental fees was down to $19,350. According to members of the Windham Historic Committee, the current “challenge” is to garner additional paid functions for the facility. Until then, available funds are limited. The current balance in the Searles Special Revenue Fund is
$6,712, while there are still three more years of $12,000 annual loan payments due (2011 to 2013).
In order to attract the extra business needed to
pay for building expenses; Historic Committee members have proposed a position to be entitled “Facilities Coordinator.” The person who has been serving in a somewhat similar capacity as a “function coordinator,” Jeanette McMahon, will be retiring at the end of this month. The new job title includes booking functions and attending certain functions as required, such as when liquor is being served; opening and closing the building for functions; and taking on certain marketing tasks. The town’s maintenance department, under the supervision of Al Barlow, provides custodial services. The Facilities Coordinator will be expected to perform limited marketing, in terms of showing the building and creative assistance with the way in which events can be set up. However, the primary function of this job will be to book rentals. This job is proposed as a permanent part-time position, scheduled for a maximum average of 15 hours per week, although busy seasons will require additional hours. Any additional weekly hours in excess of 15 will need to be approved. After extensive discussion, selectmen voted 4 to 0 to pay $9 per hour, plus an additional incentive for procuring bookings. The incentive will be 10% of the function fee
New Zoning Administrator Welcomed SEPTEMBER 17, 2010 by Jay Hobson Specializing in land law and
with experience in zoning issues from the developer’s point of view, new Zoning Administrator and Code Enforcement Officer Tim Corwin, 32, was welcomed with a luncheon meet and greet on Wednesday. Corwin; his wife, Emily; and
their two children, Timmy, 3, and Henry, 1, live in Nashua. “This is my first day on the job
and I’m still getting the feel of it,” Corwin said. Corwin received his bachelor’s
degree in political science from Thomas More College in Merrimack, his master’s degree in city planning from the University of
New zoning administrator and code enforcement officer Tim Corwin
Pennsylvania in 2001, and his law degree from Temple University in 2005. Corwin was in private law practice in land use issues while living
in Lancaster, PA, from 2005 to 2007 and in Bluebell, PA, near Philadelphia, from 2007 to 2009. The Corwins moved to New Hampshire last summer and have
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family in the area. “My parents live in Nashua, and my brother lives in Manchester
and is a police officer in Derry,” Corwin said. Community Development Director Laura Scott is pleased with
Corwin’s appointment. “With both a law degree and city planning degree, Tim brings a
wealth of knowledge and experience to the position,” Scott said. Corwin said he understands the need to balance development with
growth. “There is only so much land to be developed, and with a town
like Windham with its rural character, there is a need for balance to maintain that character,” Corwin said. “I’m really very excited to be a part of this town,” Corwin said.
Beer Sales Nixed at Summer Concerts by Lynne Ober Would you like to have a cold beer while
enjoying one of the summer concerts on the green? Town Administrator Tom Gaydos told Pelham Selectmen that he received an e-mail from John White, who was working with the Pelham Firefighters Association and the Women’s Fire Auxiliary. They planned to work at the food court during the next concert on the Village Green, and requested to sell draft beer between 6 -7:30 p.m. According to Gaydos, White said the Association had an insurance policy and said they would make sure people were carded for proof of their age and would limit the total amount of beer sold to half a keg.
Because Pelham has an ordinance prohibiting alcohol consumption on Town property, Gaydos said he answered the e-mail and explained that the Board of Selectmen may grant a waiver and special
permit. However, Police Chief Joseph Roark informed Gaydos that anyone selling alcohol in New Hampshire must have a license that is issued by the state liquor commission. Licenses can be for a single day or a multiple event or, such as in a restaurant or bar, for daily sales. Board of Selectmen Doug Viger said he
was against selling alcoholic beverages at any Town function.
Selectman Bill McDevitt concurred,
but would also like to review the ordinance.
Selectman Ed Gleason felt it was a bad precedent to start and didn’t feel it would be appropriate to have alcohol on the premises.
While Selectman Hal Lynde tended to agree, he didn’t want to rule it out because there may be some function that would better fit the instance.
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McDevitt suggested that selectmen should have further discussion regarding granting one-day permits, but agreed this was not what he wanted to see during the concerts. The selectmen were all in agreement to not serve beer per the request, and Gaydos was asked to notify White.
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if the coordinator needs to attend the event and 5% if the coordinator does not need to attend the event, but only open and close the building. The incentive fee does not pertain to town government or non-profit functions held at the Searles Chapel/ School. The person holding the new job will be considered as a contracted town employee. Voting in favor of the salary scale were Selectmen Roger Hohenberger, Charles McMahon, Bruce Breton, and Galen Stearns. Selectman Ross McLeod did not attend the meeting where the vote was taken.
coninued to page 6- Searles
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