HARVARD -- The Board of Selectmen signed off on the town's warrant Monday night, removing one Hildreth House warrant from the 53-item list.
The original Hildreth House improvement warrant called for a $3.7 million renovation, later shrinking to a $158,000 article that would only go toward crafting a development design.
Although the article failed to make the cut, selectmen still voted to make up to $20,000 available for the development design of the construction plan. The money comes from the remaining schematic design that also helped the town plan potential Town Hall renovations.
Connie Larrabee, chair of the Hildreth House Improvement Committee, suggested that the committee might be able to come up with a less costly version of development. This plan might only include a new lift, entrance and stairs, while a new dining room and multipurpose room would be postponed until further funding is available.
"We've been looking at the plan with an eye toward cost-reductions or modifications," she said, "possibly phasing the project so that the most essential things could be done soon, and much of the addition would be done later and would be funded perhaps by private donations."
Selectman Leo Blair said that by spending the $20,000 on a design plan, the project might become more affordable in the long-run.
"I'm not a big fan of this project as people know, and one of the reasons I'm not a big fan of it is because of the cost," Blair said.
Selectmen disagreed on amendments to the dog bylaws, a topic recently brought into the spotlight after dogs belonging to a man on Depot Road allegedly killed a neighbor's flock of chickens.
The new bylaws increase the fines for any dog owner whose dogs are deemed dangerous or a nuisance. Previous fines maxed out at $50 per offense -- now the minimum amount given for the first offense.
The bylaw also adopts the state's more stringent fines for owners who violate an order from the Board of Selectmen to contain a nuisance or dangerous dog. The first offense carries a fine of up to $500, the second up to $1,000.
Blair said the state statute is poorly written and cumbersome, citing only five dog hearings in the last 10 years.
"I think this is a big overreach," Blair said. "I think that the state ordinance is flawed because I think it declares dogs prematurely dangerous and lops in being dangerous to fowl as equivalent to being dangerous to a human being."
But Selectman Lucy Wallace suggested still keeping the warrant article so that voters at town meeting can provide direction.
"I agree with Lucy," said Selectman Ronald Ricci. "Let's at least put it forward for discussion."
The article remained on the warrant, with Blair and Selectman Stu Sklar opposed.
Selectmen also voted to put forth two ballot questions, one regarding a new front-end loader for the Department of Public Works and another to replace spalling concrete at The Bromfield School.
The one-time tax increases would total $275,000 -- $115,000 for the concrete and $160,000 for the front-end loader.
The town's Finance Committee will submit its recommendations for each article item in a booklet that voters will receive at town meeting.
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