"Rivermouth," Library & Proposed High School
"Our Town" By James W. Tucker
Hampton Union, Thursday, February 7, 1957
When haircuts were a quarter and a shave only fifteen cents, it was not uncommon for a customer to say to the barber who was standing by stropping the razor "Once over lightly, please!" Well, that's the way we are going to treat a trio of local topics in today's column. Although each topic is worthy of full-pillar treatment, this week it will be passed over but once and lightly.
Subjects a Plenty
Never did so many subjects, pile up on which we would like to write. There's the public library, "Rivermouth" (that's the section of Hampton which adjoins Seabrook on the south side of Hampton Harbor inlet), the proposed regional High School, the projected commercial bank, modern witches, increasing cost of necessities, horse racing, the din over dungarees and a dozen other subjects of local and timely interest.
Can anyone suggest a better name than "Rivermouth" for that small, controversial and valuable section of our town which lies directly south of the State Bath House area across the Hampton Harbor Inlet? It is the northernmost part of the Seabrook Beach Development and a comparatively small area over which a court battle was waged recently, between Hampton and Seabrook. Our town won with the apparently sound and incontrovertible argument that Town Rock was not only the original bound marker between the two communities, but is also today's legal boundary. Many Seabrook authorities found the decision hard to accept.
A Valuable Section
Rivermouth is a valuable recreational segment of our town comprising 105 house lots, 46 of which have homes with an aggregate value of $600,000. They are assessed for $300,000, yielding a yearly tax return of $12,300. There are 3,600 feet of roads in the area and a complete tarring job costs around $3,000. It is necessary to tarr at least once in every three years. Rubbish collections and snow removal average, to cost about $300 yearly.
"Rivermouth" has attractive homes, adequate streets, 750 feet of ocean frontage and 1,600 feet of frontage along the river or harbor inlet. It is protected on the river side by a half-tide jetty which will soon have to be enlarged to provide full-tide protection. Erosion is a danger common to "Rivermouth" and to all of Seabrook Beach. Therefore the two communities should even now be adopting joint measures, to overcome erosion and to protect the locality.
Municipal Water Supply
Seabrook recently completed the highly commendable project of installing a complete municipal water system. The retirement of water bonds and payment of debt service depends upon the business transacted by the water department. The more water takers per mile of main, the more profit for Seabrook's new and vitally necessary water department.
Yet for some reason Seabrook refuses to extend its mains from Seabrook Beach into Hampton's "Rivermouth" district to furnish water to 46 potential customers of today and make it available to 59 customers of tomorrow. This strange attitude of our good neighbors reminds one of the old and homely adage about cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.
Nothing to Fight Over
"Rivermouth" is more than a very valuable segment of Hampton's recreational area. It is replete. with associations that are an integral part of our town's splendid history. With respect to "Rivermouth," our two communities, Hampton and Seabrook, should form a mutual admiration society. It certainly is not an area to fight over.
Lane Memorial Library
We have often called attention to the great need of expanding the facilities of the Lane Memorial Library, a public institution which should be an active cultural center in our town. The need has increased in direct proportion to Hampton's rapid growth but this important need has not yet been fulfilled.
In 1932, $2,000 was budgeted for our public library and the amount remained about the same for seventeen years although it was occasionally reduced as low as $1,600 or $1,800. In 1949 the library item in the town budget was increased from $2,000 to $3,000. After that it was raised by degrees until it reached $3,500 in 1954. It has remained at this level ever since and we understand that this same unrealistic sum of $3,500 has again been asked by the library trustees for the coming year. In 25 years, while other municipal appropriations have soared to astronomical proportions, our public library appropriation has been increased only $1,500.
Center of Culture
Modern public libraries are much more than depositories for books that are loaned to citizens. They include facilities for quiet study and research; for the enjoyment of all types of modern music; for reading in a comfortable relaxed atmosphere; for, occasional art exhibitions; for gathering various age-groups of children together to enjoy music, to listen to the volunteer reading of prose and poetry and to become acquainted at an early age with the benefits of a public library that is truly a center of cultural activity for citizens of all ages.
We are quite well acquainted with the idea first advanced for enlarging our library which was frowned upon by two of the three trustees - a plan which undoubtedly led to the generous offer of Mr. Wheaton Lane to contribute $10,000 towards library extension, if Hampton will appropriate a like amount for the purpose. It is to be sincerely hoped that our town will accept the proffered assistance of the public spirited grandson of the man in whose memory the library was built.
Needs Are Numerous
We hope that with the opportunity to add to the physical facilities of the library, there will come to the trustees a realization of other important library needs - the need of a larger, municipal appropriation, the need of opening the library for longer periods each week, the need of more help, the help's need of adequate pay, the need of more of the services afforded by modern libraries in this day and age, the great need of making the library attractive to children of all ages - in fact the crying need which exists for a center in our town which will cultivate a love of good books, of music, of painting and of sculpture in citizens of today and tomorrow.
First Of Its Kind
In a few weeks we shall have the first meeting of the new seacoast regional, secondary school district. It will be the first meeting of its kind ever held in New Hampshire and it will be called by the State Board of Education. Ours will be the first cooperative SECONDARY school district in this state.
Need for Realism
We humbly venture to hope for several things in connection with this forthcoming, important meeting. Although we are by no means a purist in matters pertaining to English as it is spoken and written; the first thing we hope for is that the call for the meeting be reasonably grammatical; secondly,we would wish that any figures presented, having to do with the plan, be wholly realistic and not based even partly on a desire to sell either the plan or any idea connected with it.
Even Though Painful
For instance, on Friday night, January 18, a new High School was suggested that would cost $900,000 and accommodate only 500 pupils. Furthermore, the same sheet of revised figures told us that in 1958-1959 we School was completed, it would not be large enough to accommodate the potential students. And, is Hampton's share of the projected capital investment going to be based on our 1954 equalized valuation or on a later valuation which would make our town's share much larger than 61.72 per cent of the total cost? Facts in the first instance, even though painful, make explanations unnecessary in the second instance.
We've gone once over lightly on a trio of important municipal problems which will be solved properly and with dispatch if all of our citizens give them a little careful thought.