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Tilton voters prepare for final police station meeting

April 20, 2011
TILTON — Life Safety Building committee members held a public hearing last week to explain the ins and outs of a proposal to finally resolve the town's dilemma for a new police station one last time before the last article remaining on this year's Town Warrant is presented for a vote.

Residents are asked to take part in a Special Town Meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 21 at 6 p.m. in the Winnisquam Regional High School cafetorium.

The proposal fell two votes shy of passing in a two-thirds ballot vote held during Town Meeting on March 12. A motion to reconsider was immediately brought forward and accepted by Town Moderator Chuck Mitchell after a brief consultation on the laws governing such a motion. After five years and $148,000 spent on researching possible locations for a new police station, the committee members hope their work will finally be over, and the police department will finally be able to move into suitable, safer and ADA compliant headquarters.

"It's been a long road, and I hope we're nearing the finish," said chairman of the LSBC Owen Wellington as the hearing got underway.

Committee member Helen Hanks ran a PowerPoint presentation of the proposal to do a build-out of a town-owned building located at 61 Business Park Drive.

"We own this building, and we're paying on it. Ironically, this is a good economy to get good construction costs and get this done," she said.

One benefit to utilizing the site would be the installation of water lines along Route 132 to Business Park Drive. Hanks explained the total cost of water lines is estimated to be $650,000.

Nickerson LLC, which owns the remaining property in the business park, has signed a written contract to split the expenses with the town and cover any additional costs over Tilton's $325,000 portion should any complications occur during installation of the lines. Bringing water to the area, the company felt, would enable them to sell lots which have on the market for some time and not sold due to the lack of a large reliable water supply in the business park.

"We'll get a revenue when those lots sell and the new owner pays to tie into the water line, as well as from taxes on those new businesses," Hanks said.

Ideally, tie-in fees alone could help the town pay off the project for the waterlines, she added.

The total cost for the project is estimated at $2.7 million, including both water and construction of the new police station. Hanks said to do nothing would continue to cost taxpayers $33 a year for a home assessed at $100,000 to pay the note on the original purchase of the building in 2006.

To move forward with the proposal to turn the building into a police station and add the water line into the business park would mean a tax impact of $44 per $100,000 of assessment.

"It's pretty beneficial when you look at it that way," said Hanks.

Another benefit she pointed out is the "green factor," where the town would be improving a building already in existence for a "much-needed facility," instead of constructing something new on an open lot.

There was no comment from the few members of the public who attended the hearing.

Committee members said every vote is vital, and they hope to see a large turnout for this Special Town Meeting. LSBC has made arrangements with AutoServ of Tilton to provide free rides for those in need of transportation, and pick-ups may be arranged in advance by calling Tilton Town Hall at 286-4521.

Hanks also encouraged the public to reach out by offering rides to neighbors and encouraging everyone they know to attend. For those voters who have small children, there will also be free onsite babysitting during the meeting, provided by students from WRHS. The meeting gets underway at 6 p.m. with a brief discussion, followed by a ballot vote on the article.

North Country Environmental
Martin Lord Osman
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