MANCHESTER — The 369 residents who showed up for the first night of Manchester’s Town Meeting not only approved a series of town budget items for the new fiscal year, they also set the stage for a debt exclusion May Election Day override to Proposition 21/2 to fund the acquisition of remaining Pine Street property, perhaps by eminent domain, and the environmental cleanup of the site.
Residents made their way through the first 16 of 29 articles Monday night, with bylaw proposals designed to ban single-use plastic bags and give dog owners extended time to walk their dogs on town beaches among the articles pushed to a continuation of the meeting Tuesday night. The meeting was ongoing as of press time.
Monday, residents backed Article 8, which allows the town to put the ballot question regarding a 21/2 override before voters, with an eye toward the cleanup of six contaminated sites, totaling about 5.27 acres along Pine Street and Rockwood Heights Road.
Voters will be facing a debt exclusion override referendum in the annual town election, slated for May 21.
The cost associated with the cleaning and capping of the contaminated site stands at $1,741,000, and town officials said Tuesday, prior to the second night of the meeting, it remains unclear on how long the town will need to carry the debt or its direct impact on the taxpayers.
”I’m guessing 20 to 25 (years),” Interim Town Administrator Wayne Melville said of the possible loan.
Melville noted that, under the debt exclusion, the override tax increase during the loan, but would revert downward afterward. Melville said the alternative — excavating, cleaning and returning the entire site — could have cost twice as much.
During the annual town election in 2009, voters passed ballot questions that allowed the town to buy and clean three properties that were on the burn dump itself for $2.4 million. That measure was also backed by a debt exclusion Proposition 21/2 override.