February 16, 2019

Deep River Selectmen Await Meeting With Town Hall Restoration Association

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen is hoping a joint meeting next month with directors of the Deep River Town Hall Restoration Association Inc. will bring consensus on how to complete a long-running restoration of the town hall auditorium and utilize funds donated to the association.

Selectmen met with members of the association board of directors on Sept. 27, urging the association to assist in drafting an updated town meeting resolution and authorization for the association, which was established under a 1981 town meeting resolution and later became a non-profit corporation. Before the joint meeting was held, the board on Oct. 11 adopted a resolution expressing opposition to placing funds held by the association in an irrevocable endowment fund.

Sally Carlson-Crowell told the selectmen at Tuesday’s meeting the group was “a little bit concerned,” about receiving “demands” from the selectmen before the joint session was held. She said directors of the group, including long-time director Ted Mackenzie, had recently discussed dissolving the association based on concern with the direction of the review process.

Selectman Arthur Thompson said the board is not seeking to disband the association, but needs to clarify the future plans of the association and the use of more than $200,000 in donated funds held by the association. The funds were donated by residents to support the restoration of the town hall auditorium, a project that began in the late 1970s.

Most of the funds have been invested on the stock market, with the value shifting in recent weeks based on gains and declines in the market. Thompson said the funds should be held in safer investments, and used to complete all necessary improvements to the town hall auditorium. “I’m not sure the people who donated that money want it to be played on the stock market,” he said.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the board needs to have the association “let us know what you want to do,” to complete all necessary improvements to the auditorium. He suggested the funds held by the association could be combined with some town funding to complete the project. Smith said he has no objections to having a local resident hired by the association continue to coordinate scheduling the use of the auditorium.

Concluding Tuesday’s discussion, Carlson-Crowell said the association directors are “looking forward,” to the joint meeting with the selectmen.