Wednesday March 20, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

SHAFTSBURY -- The Select Board voted to create a "town garage committee" devoted specifically to the task of forming a plan for a new one and communicating the specifics to voters, hopefully in time for a bond vote in November.

Bond vote shot down

Voters shot down a $1.55 million bond vote at town meeting with 292 in favor and 505 voting "no." The town garage committee, unlike the facilitates committee which created the first proposal, would be tasked specifically with getting a plan in place for the town garage. Board member Karen Mellinger was assigned to tap people for committee membership and a number of people, including the board's newest member, Kenneth Harrington, expressed interest.

"You can't keep me off it," said Harrington, who had been against the project as proposed but said Monday that during his campaign for a seat on the board, he spoke to no one who did not think a new garage was needed.

Harrington pitched an idea to use a pre-fabricated structure for the garage, which he said might cost under $100,000. He said he thought planning the project was something the board could do on its own. The rest of the board largely disagreed with him, with the board's new chairman, Craig Bruder, saying such a project required a variety of expertise and opinions to turn out well. He said Harrington's idea was perfect for discussion by a committee, which Harrington ultimately supported creating.


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Board member Billy Obenauer said a big issue with the last proposal was the misconceptions being talked about among townsfolk about possible building features and why some of it was needed. Most on the board agreed there was a lack of communication in play despite some public information sessions and reports in the media. A member of the audience suggested the garage committee be allotted a small budget to use on getting the message out once it comes up with a new proposal.

Mellinger said she had spoken with the editor of the Bennington Banner about having a column run in the paper about the garage. The board agreed it was important to get the community's support and the motion to create the garage committee was amended to also direct it to spread information on what it is doing.

Bruder said the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank only does bond sales at certain times of the year and the committee would have to have a plan together by August if it wanted to have the matter up for a bond vote by November. He said the timeline would be tight.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com.