June 15 2020

Town Meeting Approves Big-Ticket Capital Projects After Discussion

By: Rich Hosford

Town Meeting last week approved a number of capital projects for various town departments and the School Department though not as many as was expected before the pandemic. 


As reported on BNEWS, town officials met with department heads in the lead-up to the postponed Town Meeting session to determine which funding requests could be delayed until either the fall or next year. 


In total nine of the original capital project requests were delayed until next year, including funds to improve the 9/11 Memorial, new voting equipment, a radio box system for the Fire Department and $500,000 to replace the turf at Varsity Field at the high school. 


Some of the big-ticket items approved because they were deemed necessary included $457,500 for DPW vehicles. This was approved despite the Capital Budget Committee voting to postpone it until September. DPW Director John Sanchez argued that some of the vehicles being replaced were no longer functioning and also that most include plows that will likely be necessary this winter because the town has had increasing difficulty finding contractors to do snow removal work. 


Another project that garnered discussion was $350,000 for equipment and safety upgrades in the Marshall Simonds Middle School auditorium. A couple members asked if this could not be delayed considering that students would not likely be putting on plays anytime soon. 


Public Schools Facilities Director Bob Cunha argued that the safety upgrades go beyond just stage equipment and include the removal of asbestos. He added that this is one of the larger rooms in the school and, depending on how the fall return of students works out, is therefore one where social distancing would be the easiest to maintain. 


Most others passed without much discussion. Click here to watch the Annual Town Meeting. 


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