Tuftonboro pubic safety building article fails, will be reconsidered March 26
Vote achieved 60% support at Meeting but falls short of two-thirds needed
|AT TUFTONBORO TOWN MEETING on March 9, Chief Andy Shagoury refers to the architectural drawings presented by the Public Facilities Committee, of which he was a member, as he outlines the space needs of his department to voters. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)|
March 17, 2011TUFTONBORO — A 60 percent majority of Tuftonboro voters said "yes" last Wednesday night, March 9, to Article 3, the $3.2 million proposal on the town warrant for a combined police and fire facility, but the 217 147 outcome was not enough to meet the two-thirds requirement to approve the project.
However, that is not the last of the discussion.
The meeting will reconvene on Saturday, March 26, at 10 a.m. at the Tuftonboro Central School to reconsider the article.
It remains as stated in the warrant with the exception of an amendment suggested by Eric Roseen, chairman of the Parks and Recreation committee, to include a back access entrance approved by the NH Department of Transportation and an exterior public restroom at the back of the facility for those who are pursuing recreational activities on the site, now called Tuftonboro Central Park.
Parking spilled over from the school to line Middle Road (Route 109A) with cars and filled the Tuftonboro Public Library lot up the road as residents moved along in the darkness to join the crowd in the school gymnasium and become a part of the evening's deliberations.
The vote by secret ballot on Article 3 followed nearly an hour of presentations and discussion. The polls stayed open for an hour by state mandate. With two building proposals each requiring an hour for voting, the meeting extended from its 7:30 p.m. start until midnight.
Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Carolyn Sundquist, who served on the public facilities committee with Selectman Dan Duffy, Fire and Rescue Chief Adam Thompson, Police Chief Andy Shagoury, and Codes Officer Jack Parsons, began the presentation on the article. The plans include 14,000 square feet of space with 9,400 devoted to the fire department and 4,500 dedicated to police operations.
She explained that the $3.2 million estimate is a maximum price, and the expectation is that construction bids will be very competitive with the slow economic climate. The town was able to reduce the operating budget by $186,000 (later in the evening it was amended by $10,000 in consideration of rising fuel prices) this year and the selectmen have the ability to transfer a portion of funds from the $1.4 million undesignated fund balance. The financial package is set between four and five percent interest, not something that can be counted on to last.
There would be no tax impact in 2011 and little or no impact going forward, according to Sundquist.
Thompson spoke to the need for space, which is not in dispute, since 2000. Four study groups and 10 years later, he said it is time to move forward; there is no way to expand the Melvin Village and Mirror Lake stations.
The town's insurance ratings would be affected positively, as would the ratings for residents who would now be within five miles of a station. He said that most calls come from Center Tuftonboro, which currently faces longer response times, a problem that could be alleviated by the new station.
The inability to work on the fire trucks inside either of the stations is a liability issue in his view, because weather conditions such as freezing rain make it more likely for a fireman to slide off the truck when following procedures after a fire.
Shagoury pointed out the particulars of the police department space on the layouts provided by the architect, and spoke about the current lack of privacy in the current station. "We've had rape victims sitting there crying and people can see them through the glass door," he said, but there is not a separate room for them.
The two-bay garage was built too short, and one of the bays has to be used to store large items that cannot be claimed until a dispute is resolved. He told the audience that he has dedicated a closet to evidence storage that is now overflowing. The new facility would provide space for equipment and storage and a place to book prisoners and keep people in dispute separate while a matter is resolved.
At present, officers have to go to the county jail to process prisoners and wait for the bailsman, time that could be more efficiently spent in Tuftonboro.
Gary Goudreau, the architect who has designed the building, spoke next after Moderator Dan Barnard clarified his right to speak in answer to resident Guy Pike, who questioned whether a non-resident could speak at town meeting. Goudreau said that the construction manager from Bauen Corporation, Andre Kloez would plan to emphasize using local companies for work and explained that upon approval, the firm would spend the next two months completing code analysis, including up to date ADA legislation. Mechanical, electrical, plumbing and structural engineers would work on developing specifications to go out to bid.
Dave Ford said that having a combined facility would offer an economy of scale. He urged the voters to support the article, saying,"You can't stop investing in your community."
Former County Commissioner Chip Albee spoke in favor of the construction management approach chosen by the committee to handle the project and said that the new county nursing home in progress has realized a 12 percent savings over the original estimated cost with the tough economy encouraging competitive bidding.
Retired architect Dick Carey said he had high regard for Bauen Corporation and former Selectman Susan Weeks urged voters to look at the long view, pointing out the building would likely serve the community for another 50 years.
The alternate petitioned proposal for a $1.5 million standalone fire station was voted down with 74 in favor and 188 against (262 vote total). John Simms, the petitioner, thanked Selectman Chairman Carolyn Sundquist and the committee for their professionalism and a "steady interaction" over the past weeks of meetings and presentations.
In a move that took some by surprise, Rick Friend made a motion while voters waited out the hour of voting allotted for the Simms proposal, to reconsider Article 3. It passed handily in a show of raised orange cards, 75 47, raising an outcry by some who apparently were satisfied with the first vote.
Betsy Thornton defended the move, though some voters had left as the evening wore on, saying that everyone makes a choice whether to stay or leave. Rea Anne Rogers disagreed, calling the move "extremely inconsiderate."
"I respect the Town Meeting form of government," said Barbara Garabedian, " and the meeting isn't over until it's over" and pointed out, "Some people couldn't be here for or against tonight."
Richard Knapp expressed outrage, saying that he sensed a set up and warned, "You're going to have a public relations problem on your hands."
Moderator Barnard responded calmly that he anticipated that a motion might come to the floor but that he made no attempt to wait until the hall was empty. He pointed out that the vote was a 60 percent majority, so if more people had stayed, the result would likely be the same.
Gary Chehames suggested that the next warrant have a headline that "all warrants are subject to reconsideration," and protested, "I had no idea, and I'm a pretty smart guy ...this doesn't quite cut it."
"It's not uncommon," replied Barnard, "though it may be uncommon in Tuftonboro."
The Tuftonboro Town Meeting will continue on Saturday, March 26, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Tuftonboro Central School, to discuss and vote on Article #3.
Other Tuftonboro results
A planning board amendment to Section 4.3 Certificate of Occupancy passed.
Voters affirmed putting its Great Meadow property into a conservation easement to protect the high-quality aquifer for future community water needs by preventing development. Michael Phelps, chairman of the Conservation Commission, said the vote would allow the Commission to encourage private land owners to put sections of their property, which they would still own, into easements to create trails for recreational use, including hunting, fishing and hiking.
The property owners in the Tuftonboro Farms Subdivision can look forward to the completion of ZaDeDa Farm Lane and Black Bear Run Road with the release of $22,300 in the form of a letter of credit held by the town since the developer failed to perform promised construction and $46,000 from the town to be repaid by the owners in taxes over a term to be established. The town had underestimated the developer's bond term. When he defaulted, work could not continue. Sundquist said that this would rectify the situation and allow work to progress.
Voters also approved warrant articles asking for: $185,000 for the paving of town roads (Ledge Hill and Union Wharf Roads); $12,000 for improvements to the Transfer Station; $37,000 for a new police cruiser; a five year, $420,000 purchase/lease agreement for a fire truck to replace the 20-year-old vehicle in service and $17,000 for new equipment; $1,500 for participation with Moultonborough and Wolfeboro in the Milfoil Joint Board; the establishment of the Milfoil Eradication Expendable Trust Fund and inclusion of $1,000 in that fund; $50,000 to be placed in the Library Capital Reserve Fund; and most important $2,664,586 for general town operations, a total amended upward by $10,000 in consideration of rising fuel prices.
A petitioned warrant article to raise and appropriate up to $7,500 to fund a formal study of the current police department operations to reduce current expenses and maintain or improve police services and coverage was defeated.
On March 26, the meeting will reconvene at 10 a.m. at the Tuftonboro Central School to vote on Article 3. Whether the 10- to 12-year stretch (depending on who you talk to) of irresolution will continue or end with a commitment to constructing a public safety building remains to be seen.