Cupola mission gathering information, not moss

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The Bay of Naples Inn’s cupola is still sitting on the snow-covered ground of private property that is in the hands of a new owner.

Not everything is at a standstill. After the Naples’ selectmen meeting, a short-term cupola committee is getting off the ground with the leadership being handed off to Selectman Kevin Rogers.

“Spearhead it? I probably ought to,” Rogers said.

Already, Rogers has contacted three utility companies to get cost estimates for moving wires if and when the cupola is transported from its resting spot at the old Bay of Naples Campground. Also, Rogers has talked with the new landowners where the cupola is located, and chatted with people in the community willing to volunteer their time to be on the committee. Regarding the best place to relocate the cupola, Rogers talked about taking a straw poll to get a feel for which was most popular. Suggestions have included the Village Green, the Town Beach and the scenic vista near the Robert Neault Memorial Bridge.

The Naples Cupola Committee’s mission is an information-gathering one. The selectmen’s charge for the committee includes: “Evidence of ownership of the cupola; current condition of the infrastructure and roof; identifying possible display locations for the structure and the arguments, pro and con, of each location including costs related to site preparations; the best estimate of costs to move the structure to the site that includes any donations, service or labor and transportation charges and reconstructive costs once the cupola is moved.”

According to the document called Cupola Committee Charge, “a final report must be submitted to the select board no later than April 9.” Additionally, the board requested that the committee check in with the board prior to March 21.

During the Jan. 29 selectmen’s meeting, interim Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz said the Cupola Committee should follow the protocol of any municipal committee.

“You are still conducting the business of the town, so don’t have an e-mail meeting. Still post the meetings and make sure the public knows you are having the meetings. Just make sure you are transparent to the public process,” Berkowitz said. “There are people who will come to the microphone and complain” if it seems like meetings aren’t advertised and made open to the public, he said.

Discussions about the cupola have taken place regularly since early this summer after local elections. Whether or not individual board members favor saving and restoring the cupola, it is something that citizens have brought to their attention.

It is important to note that the bigger issue for most board members is the use of taxpayers’ dollars. Some board members have expressed a preference for private fundraising. Applying for grants has been mentioned, too.

“There would be every possibility that if not properly funded the taxpayers would fund it if there was a plan,” Selectman Jim Turpin said.

Obviously, it is up to residents at town meeting how much money should be budgeted to relocate, repair and maintain the cupola. However, it is impossible to slot the cupola into the proposed budget without knowing the real costs.

The Cupola Committee’s final report has a deadline of April 9 so it can be included as a “formal appropriation request at Annual Town Meeting in June. If the deadline is not met, any request for funds will need to go to the next regular or special town meeting.”

Chairman Jim Grattelo clarified the objective of the committee: “We are looking for an iron clad proposal to come back to the board.”

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