The 2014 Annual Town Meeting wrapped up at 9 PM Wednesday following 11 hours of debate on the 30 regular articles and 19 special articles up for consideration.
Over the course of three evenings, voters approved some big ticket items such as the design and construction of a new $46.5 million water treatment facility. The current plant on Long Pond was built in 1898. The new facility requires approval at the ballot box in May.
Another measure heading to the ballot box is spending $1.6 million to build an artificial turf athletic field. The new turf field will be built on the south side of Falmouth High School and will be used for football, soccer and lacrosse games. Further upgrades include new bleachers, lights, concession stands, restrooms and a scoreboard.
“This will go a long way in promoting school spirit. It’s a way to help show the kids in this town we care,” said recent Falmouth High School graduate and Precinct 3 member Rose C. Mase. The finance committee had recommended indefinite postponement. “No one wants to say no to kids. As parents, sometimes we have to say so if it will be a financial burden. We need to ask ourselves if this will be a financial burden later, and it will be,” said finance committee member Wendy L. Vogel. The finance committee originally said maintenance on the turf field would cost $700,000 to $800,000, but reduced that estimate to $400,000 last night. Turf fields have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years before they need to be replaced. The athletic field advisory committee said the project will cost $2.8 million; that includes four years of turf maintenance and an eight-year warranty. The remaining money is coming from private cash and in-kind donations.
Town meeting members also voted 152 to 42 to implement the comprehensive wastewater management plan at a cost of $50 million. The plan now must be approved on May 20 by Falmouth voters on a town-wide ballot. The Little Pond sewer betterments were also approved.
The FY 2015 budget increases to just under $116 million to pay for rising health insurance and retirement costs for town employees, help to fund the school’s out-of-district special education costs, and pay for contractual salary increases.
Town Meeting also approved the purchase of a 21.92-acre parcel of land from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The land sits on Oyster Pond, abutting Spohr Gardens. The Community Preservation Trust will contribute $650,000 and $150,000 will be donated from OPET (Oyster Pond Environmental Trust). The board of selectmen will apply for a $400,000 state land grant.
More Town Meeting
By 144 to 60, town meeting members agreed to a three-year amnesty for homeowners who have existing multi-family or accessory apartments that are not currently permitted. The units must have been in existence since 1994 without a lapse or two years or more.
Other approved articles include a transfer of $300,000 from free cash to the wind turbine reserve account; $1.3 million construction of the Wild Harbor Bulkhead; and medical marijuana dispensary bylaw requiring them to be located in business 2 zoning and creates a 500-foot buffer between schools, churches, day care, nursery schools, public parks or playgrounds and the dispensaries.
By a modest majority, town meeting voted last night not to spend $24,999 on a review of the Falmouth High School renovation project.
For all of our 2014 Falmouth Town Meeting Coverage click here.