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Selectmen OK discounted rate for use of Meeting Hall


TOWNSEND — The Board of Selectmen has approved a one-year contract for Weight Watchers to use the Townsend Meeting Hall, but that discussion could spur changes to the town policies for renting that venue.

At issue was the town’s rental-fee structure, which has several payment categories, but nothing that was an exact fit for a business seeking to enter a long-term contract.

Further complicating the discussion was that the Meeting Hall Committee already reached a tentative agreement that would allow Weight Watchers to use the venue for $50 a week, as opposed to the $200 charge specified under the current rate structure for commercial functions.

That had selectmen Chairman Robert Plamondon concerned the town could be on a “slippery slope,” if it set precedent by giving one business a discount.

“The rental is appropriate,” he said. “My only problem is we have a rate structure in place, and then we’re going to turn around and given them a $150 break.”

On the other side, Meeting Hall Committee member Jane Jackson said the fee structure assumes one-time usage and doesn’t really cover this type of situation. She added that Weight Watchers wasn’t likely to pay the $200 and the Meeting Hall Committee felt some revenue was better than none.

Similarly, Jackson said committee would accept the $50 rate from other groups willing to enter long-term agreements for use of the space.

“It’s guaranteed income for the town,” she said.

In the end, selectmen voted 2-1 to approve the agreement, after selectmen Sue Lisio and Nicholas Thalheimer agreed that the current rate structure didn’t provide for this type of situation.

In the big picture, Jackson said they’ve had little luck with the flat rate of $200 for commercial functions, adding the fees were established before the building was opened, and should probably be revisited. Jackson pointed out that there was supposed to be a six-month review of the policies for the new venue, and she asked the selectmen to consider adding that to agenda some time soon.

Plamondon was receptive to that idea, reiterating that his only objection to the Weight Watchers agreement was that it was outside the existing rate structure.

“I fully support taking another look at this,” he said.

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