HARVARD -- Having previously determined that the new Town Hall Building Committee would consist of five voting members and that Town Administrator Tim Bragan would be one of them, the selectmen Tuesday night made their picks from a field of seven candidates, plus Bragan.
Five of the seven showed up: former Selectman Leo Blair, former School Committee member Stu Sklar, Energy Advisory Committee member Eric Broadbent and two members of the late Municipal Building Committee, Peter Jackson and Douglas Coots.
Chris Cutler, another current member, is a builder who brings that expertise to the table. He, too, wants to stay on but couldn't make it to the meeting.
Neither could the seventh hopeful, Chris Ashley.
Blair dropped out. Already appointed earlier in the meeting to the Municipal Affordable Housing Trust, Blair said he'd aimed to fill an opening, but since there were fewer slots than applicants, he decided to withdraw.
Others explained their motivation and sketched what they would bring to the group.
Coots, an architect and Historical Commission member, said "continuity" is key at this point in the building project and he wants to stay on, despite plans to move in the near future. His house in town is up for sale, but it could take longer to transition his practice than to move the real estate, he said, even in a tough market. So he's made arrangements to stick around a while after the house sells, if necessary.
Jackson, an engineer and project manager by profession, also said continuity is important. "I'd like to finish what we started," he said.
Sklar said he could not claim credentials like those, but he's designed and built a house and has been "enthusiastic" about the Town Hall project for some time.
In his view, it's essential to add new folks to the committee to soak up "gathered knowledge" from veteran members like Jackson and Coots. And he's willing to be on site when needed, he said.
Broadbent cited his experience with the EAC and its mission, adding that he's served as the other group's liaison to the MBC. He wants to create the most "energy efficient" project possible. "I'd like to continue to work with them," toward that goal, he said.
Selectmen questioned the candidates. Bill Johnson spoke for one of them in absentia. Ashley is an engineer who has played a key role in the ongoing sewer project. Citing Ashley's building project experience, Johnson said he was on the Congregational Church Building Committee and that he had served with Ashley on the Bare Hill Pond pump house project.
"He comes at things with creative, fresh perspectives," he said.
Blair backed that assessment and then some. Noting his record on the sewer project, he said Ashley is "clear, competent, diligent and responsible, almost to a fault."
But despite such glowing recommendations, Selectman Marie Sobalvarro wasn't thrilled about the prospect of appointing Ashley.
Recalling a statement he made in public earlier this year, when he blasted the selectmen for mishandling the building project, she said he had accused them of "fiscal gerrymandering."
"It would not behoove us to have someone (on the committee) who does not support what we're doing," Sobalvarro said.
On a series of motions that passed -- or didn't -- the selectmen appointed Coots, Jackson, Cutler, Sklar and Bragan. They did not appoint Ashley.
Then Johnson threw a curve the others apparently were not expecting and ultimately did not back. He suggested naming the chairman of the Town Hall Building Committee the selectmen had just seated.
Citing what he said was a precedent set by past building committees, Johnson proposed a precedent of his own. Since leadership of the public safety, Bromfield School and library building projects went to "landlords" of those buildings, former Police Chief Bill Chase, retired School Superintendent Mihran Keoseian and Library trustee Peter Jackson, respectively, he argued that Bragan, as head of the Town Hall household, should head this committee.
Others at the table, including Bragan, said he was capable but that he might be too busy.
Chairman Lucy Wallace said she was "uncomfortable" with the notion and that if it was all about eyes and ears on the committee, Bragan would keep them posted, as would their liaison, Tim Clark.
Jackson said it was simply not a good idea for the selectmen to determine how the group should organize itself. "I support that he (Bragan) should be on the committee," he said. "But it's up to the members to decide who chairs it."
But Johnson was adamant. "As a selectman, I urge it," he said. He made a motion to that end, but it didn't pass.