First Selectmen George Temple announced Tuesday he will ask residents to vote on a proposed $3.1 million athletic field project at a referendum in August.
Temple, a Republican, said that he , rather than be voted upon at a town meeting where supporters of the field could stack the room. Sending the project to a town meeting is allowed per the Charter because the proposed bonding package is less than 10 percent of the current tax levy of about $32 million. Still, several residents said a referendum would be a more fair process.
Resident Janis Hardy said Monday night that she would have circulated a petition to send it to referendum and that getting the required number of signatures - 200 - would have been easy.
Temple responded Tuesday with a news release to the media, sent by administrative aide Joanne Pelton, that said:
“I will support the residents (who want a referendum) because I have a great deal of confidence that people will see the wisdom of finishing the high school project." He added that he still believes that the town was “playing by all the rules" and that the matter could have been decided at a town meeting instead of a referendum.
In the news release, Temple, who could not be reached for further comment via phone on Tuesday, stated that "unfortunately a referendum will slow down construction of the project.’’
The Board of Finance meets at 7 tonight (July 10) in town hall to vote on its recommendation to the Board of Selectmen, which will meet at 8 tonight (July 10) to decide whether to give a favorable review to the project and set a town meeting. If it goes to a town meeting, people will adjourn the project to a referendum, the date for which has yet to be determined.
Selectman Dave McKane, the lone Democrat on the three-member Board of Selectmen, said Temple is listening to the will of the people and that he, too, agrees it should be sent to a referendum.
"I think it's going to pass anyway," McKane said. "I think even people who were on the fence about whether to support it were not happy about the fact that it wasn't going to a referendum. I think it will sit better with a lot of people now that it is."