Bourne Department of Public Works employees are half-way there. Voters at Monday night’s Town Meeting decided, 232 to 22, to authorize a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion to pay for a new DPW facility. Now, the issue will go to the polls at the May 21 town elections.
Meeting-goers were treated to a video at the entrance of the auditorium that showed the existing Department of Public Works facility and they heard a presentation from the DPW Facility Building Committee.
After that, it was time for questions.
Leona Bombaci of Pocasset started off with two queries. First, she wanted to know about traffic flow to the proposed facility in relation to Bournedale Elementary School, particularly since the new complex would have a fueling station for town vehicles.
John Redman, Bourne Finance Committee member and spokesman for the DPW building committee, said that using town-owned land off Ernest Valeri Road, the road leading to the new elementary school, made the most economic sense.
Mr. Redman said the entrance to the proposed facility is located off that road before the elementary school is even in sight, with the complex taking up seven acres of a 16-acre parcel. He said the building committee looked at traffic flow and found that the majority of traffic would take place outside of school hours.
Bourne School Committee Chairman Matthew B. Stuck rose to say that members of his committee worked with the designers of the project and were satisfied with the proposed buffer and with the traffic plan.
Ms. Bombaci also wanted to know whether there had been any consideration made in the planning for the use of solar energy to run the new facility.
Mr. Redman said the building’s roof had been designed to accommodate solar panels.
When Ms. Bombaci asked why solar panels were not simply incorporated into the project, Planning Board Chairman Christopher J. Farrell explained that the town could work with the Cape Light Compact or other groups that would allow the addition of solar at little or no cost to the town, just as they did at Bourne Middle School and the new elementary school.
Scott A. Fitzmaurice of Monument Beach asked whether the land being proposed for the facility had been set aside as conservation land. Town Moderator Robert W. Parady answered that question, saying no.
Weldon Park resident Ian L. Rubinstein asked about how the project’s financing would impact the budget. Mr. Parady explained the project would have no effect on the budget, since it was proposed as a debt exclusion. Mr. Redman added that, for the owner of a $300,000 home, property taxes would go up a little more than $36 the first year of the repayment of the anticipated $6.3 million in borrowing. That amount, he said, would go down annually over the 20-year life of that loan. At the end of that 20 years, the average taxpayer would have paid about $600.
Former selectman Mark A. Tirrell, who said he has worked with the DPW over the years of his service to the town and had been able to attend some of the planning meetings for the new facility, encouraged residents to vote for the project at Town Meeting and at the polls. He said that the plans made “good sense” and could be justified on several levels.
Another resident suggested, since the town is split by the canal, keeping two acres at the landfill set aside for DPW staging during winter storms or other similar events. A motion to amend the article to include that provision was ruled out of order by the moderator, being outside the scope of the debt exclusion question.
Another resident, who said he recently moved to Bourne from Virginia, said he had voted against the project when it came before voters in last November’s presidential election.
He said he found the cost high and the project’s location off busy Scenic Highway “puzzling.”
Mr. Redman said the committee had a careful analysis of traffic patterns performed and found that there were about the same number of trips coming out of MacArthur Boulevard and going around the Bourne Rotary or over the bridge as there would be crossing the canal from Scenic Highway.
Further, Mr. Redman said, the traffic generated by the DPW facility would not coincide with peak Scenic Highway traffic flows.
When a resident called for a secret ballot, thinking the issue a “hot topic,” fewer than the 15 voters needed to mandate such a ballot stood up.
Joseph A. Agrillo Sr. of Monument Beach had the last word before tellers took a count. He said he has been treated with respect by the employees of the DPW and has had respect for their work for all of the 55 years he has lived in town. He said it, “It is our duty to give these fellows a decent place to work.”
“It’s a great, great outfit,” he said.
Those who did not get to see the Town Meeting presentation on the DPW proposal can view it online prior to going to the polls on May 21.