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New garage, new roads get the nod from Sanbornton voters

May 19, 2010
SANBORNTON — Last Wednesday Sanbornton voters agreed they couldn't afford to wait on a new Highway Garage or reconstruction to Upper Bay and Bay Roads despite having to approve more than $4 million for the projects.

Residents spoke up mainly in favor of the new garage, citing the conditions at the current building as "poor." With 149 for the article and 49 against it, they gave the green light to the selectmen, DPW Director John Thayer and Conneston Construction Inc. to start tearing the old structure down and replace it with a safer, more efficient building.

"The concrete in that building is about as efficient as a pane of glass," Energy Committee chairman Ian Raymond said to a large crowd on hand for the vote.

He only asked that the new facility employ as many energy-efficient measures as possible so the town would see a savings in those costs.

While the garage issue passed with little contrition, the matter of repaving and reconstructing state-owned Upper Bay and Bay Roads to the tune of $3 million was not as readily approved. Some residents, mostly from the Lower Bay Road area, questioned why preferential treatment seemed to be going to Upper Bay Road for the benefit of Steele Hill, while they too paid large tax bills at their lakeside residences where the roads were also in poor shape.

Select board Chair Andrew Livernois told voters that no preference was being given to one area over another for road repairs. The Y Project included these two particular roads and the town was trying to complete that project to receive the aid the state has already approved. Sanbornton will take ownership of the roads in that plan once the construction is complete.

Steele Hill owner Bill Cutillo said he had held discussions with the state about the conditions of many of the roads in that section of Sanbornton and was told that the Y Project would have to be complete before they would consider any other state-owned road projects in the town.

Livernois added that as long as he has lived in Sanbornton there were stretches of Upper Bay and Bay Road where vehicles could drive no more than 10 mph during certain times of the year. The heaves and pot holes were also damaging to town safety vehicles, highway trucks and school buses.

"It needs to be reclaimed - new drainage, a new base, a new top coat. The only way to get this done is for us to take the bull by the horns and just do it," he said.

A current verbal agreement with the state is for DOT to begin paying their two-thirds portion of the construction costs in 2014 and 2015, then make a final payment in 2017.

"We're on the hook for this if the state aid for reconstruction isn't funded some time in the future, but that isn't foreseen as happening," Livernois said.

Tax rates would be increased by 85 cents per thousand until the state money came through to help pay off the bond. While admittedly a burden on taxpayers, the selectmen stressed that now was the time to act with low finance rates and a real need to move forward with road improvements.

Voters agreed, passing the bond warrant article 167 to 39, more than necessary two-thirds majority of 138 votes. That vote resulted in a $300,000 amendment later in the night for the Capital Outlay expenses where selectmen had added that money as a back-up for some minor repairs to Upper Bay and Bay roads if the second article failed. The Capital Outlay was then reduced to $435,00 and approved unanimously. An additional $200,000 is to be reduced by an anticipated payment from the state for another reconstruction project.

The budget passed after an attempted amendment to add $45,000 to Health and Welfare line for the Youth Assistance Program failed to get the majority of the vote. Voters in the end approved the original operational budget of $3,134,717. They later approved the purchase of a utility truck for $30,000, $6,000 of that amount to be appropriated in the first year. Another $29,000 was authorized for a new police cruiser. Transfers of funds from special revenues, $5,000 for a milfoil eradication program with Laconia and Meredith and approval for the library to use unexpended funds from their 2009 budget to upgrade and improve internet technology all passed with little comment.

The final big discussion for the night dealt with Article 16, asking for the passage of a Disorderly Action Ordinance. Some residents felt the ordinance was needed to insure their rights and guard against late night fireworks, parties and other noises, particularly in the Hermit Lake vicinity where problems have arisen in the past. Others felt the ordinance would restrict their own rights to fireworks, family gatherings or even to "shoot critters" who were threatening their livestock at night.

"This strikes me as Big Brother…It's not the way a town like ours needs to be governed," resident Dick Gardner said.

Despite Chief Stephen Hankard's promise that "reasonableness" would be used to enforce the ordinance," voters gave a resounding "no" vote to the proposal.

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