Police station survey's initial results show economy played a role


July 01, 2009
As promised, after being voted down for the new police station addition, the Facility Planning Committee is reviewing recently received voter survey results.

The warrant article for the police addition had been in progress in various forms for seven years. Because the warrant article was a bonded warrant article the warrant needed to pass by a 3/5 majority according to state law. The article needed 780 yea votes this year but got only 661.

"We want to find out why the voters voted they way they did," said Jim Mull, chairman of the FPC, shortly after the ballot vote.

The survey consisted of six questions and allowed for general comments from the residents as well. Mull said they don't want to move forward until they tally the results and learn what they can from them.

"In your opinion," asked the survey, "should the town modify the police station expansion and present it to voters again?"

Town Administrator Scott Dunn reported recently that they received an approximate 50-percent response rate, which he called "phenomenal" for a survey. Out of the 500 surveys sent out to a random selection of voters, approximately 250 were returned. He said the response ranged the spectrum from "it's the greatest thing since sliced bread" to "why are you guys bothering with this?"

Dale Eddy, member of the FPC, said the dominate reason that voters were not in favor of the police station proposal was residents not wanting to spend the money for the addition during this bad economy. Eddy said that a lot of people felt that way, and he didn't think people realized that the project is not a short-term project, but will last 20 years.

"For the most part it wasn't surprising," said Eddy. "I think if this plan had gone to vote with the economy of two years ago it would have passed hands down."

Eddy said he didn't think the FPC was going to change the plans much because they all felt it was a good plan. He said that the contractor may have to adjust for the rise or decrease in material prices, but they will have to wait to confirm that. There may also be stimulus money to help with the construction, but there is no confirmed word at the present time.

The FPC will meet again in September to decide what to do about the survey results and the future of the police addition project. Eddy said the fact that a majority of the people voted for the project, even if it wasn't the 3/5 majority needed, is a good sign.

"It's just my opinion," said Eddy. "I can't speak for the FPC, but I think if this project doesn't get off the ground this year or next, it's dead."

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