More than two years ago, the Preservation Trust of Vermont approached the Pownal select board and respectfully requested it be granted an opportunity to attempt, as it has successfully accomplished hundreds of times over the decades, to locate an interested party who would purchase and renovate a town-owned Revolutionary War-era inn currently standing idle in a state of disrepair. At absolutely zero cost to the taxpayers, the building has the potential to be occupied by new small-business owners and be turned back over to the tax rolls. The trust was consistently rebuffed.
Since that point in time, certain board members on the Pownal Historical Society have actually advocated for the demolition of this highly historic structure, obviously so as not to contradict the will of the aforementioned select board members. It is neither proper nor simply the expression of "personal opinion" for any historical society board member to advocate for demolition of historic sites and in general terms, board members should only be guided by the mission statement of the organization they profess to represent and specifically not influenced by their own personal opinions, affiliations, or the opinions of those whom they align themselves with.
One of the purposes of any historical society is to obviously help preserve antiquities that possess historical significance from being destroyed or otherwise lost. In fact, for those who have ever read the Pownal Town Plan drafted by planning board members appointed by the select board and said plan subsequently approved by the select board, such preservation is purported to be also a goal of the town of Pownal as a whole.
As a former long-term planning commission member, I direct attention to page 42 of the Pownal town plan, adopted late 2006, specifically stating that the town must be attentive to: "Š gathering and preserving historical data and artifacts Š" and further: "Š The town should seek state assistance or a grant to undertake a more in-depth assessment of historic resources before they are inadvertently lost." Therefore, for the town’s select board to willfully take action to destroy a noted historical site is a conflict of their own town plan and potentially unlawful.
In short, members on any board of directors who are in direct opposition to a nonprofit group’s mission statement or do not advance the cause as it relates to the society/organization’s objectives are counter-productive and in similar fashion, a town that moves to ignore the directives of its own Town Plan is floundering under misguided leadership.
The writer was a Pownal Planning Commission member from 2004 to 2011.