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A landlord’s responsibility

Newspapers print stories all the time about errant landlords who fail to adequately maintain their properties, and tenants who struggle for months with water damage and the threat of mold. Last week we printed a hometown version of the story. The landlord in that story was the town of Harvard. The tenant was Fivesparks.

The story surfaced at last week’s Board of Health meeting: two new reports of water damage at the old library, one with a relatively easy fix and one the result of a chronic, multifaceted problem. The most recent incident of water intrusion, in the hallway outside the downstairs bathrooms, seems to have been the result of a simple mistake and is unlikely to happen again. The other soaking, in a new seating area on the first floor, has happened before and will assuredly happen again, and again, until the town does what’s necessary to fix the leaks that caused it.

The Capital Planning and Investment Committee (CPIC) has voted 3-2 not to recommend the currently proposed fix—a $1.3 million roof replacement project. Opponents of the roof project say it’s too much to spend to preserve a 130-year-old building that the town no longer needs. They say the building should be sold, or given away, rather than spending any more on repairs.

But like it or not, the town owns that building and has a responsibility to keep it in usable condition, not only for its tenant but for the many townspeople, young and old, who enjoy the programs and events at Fivesparks.

Doing nothing is not a responsible option.

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