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January 3, 2014

Westport looks at town structures again

WESTPORT — Officials are still trying to figure out how to provide adequate town-government and fire buildings for Westport in the wake of two public votes that rejected projects considered too expensive.

The problem of need vs. affordability was aired at a recent meeting.

“We felt, as a town board, the problem has not gone away,” Supervisor Dan Connell said as the town is once again investigating alternatives for the Town Hall, Fire Station and Public Works buildings.

INPUT SOUGHT

Bonding referendums were defeated in June 2010 and July 2011, but the town has been under mandate to repair or replace the structures.

Westport has been reviewing options that would provide required safety, meet federal Environmental Protection Agency and other government mandates, be economically feasible and win voter approval.

“Our main interest is to have conversations with the town, give this presentation and receive comments to get information to drive our decisions,” Town Council member Dan McCormick said.

SOLUTIONS SOUGHT

Two committees have been meeting, one for possible construction of a Department of Public Works and Fire Department structure on Route 22, north of the hamlet, and the other for the renovation of the current Town Hall.

McCormick analogized the situation to an old vehicle that reaches the point at which the costs to keep it running exceed those of purchasing a new one.

Fire Department Treasurer Gordon Decker added, “I don’t feel the needs have changed.”

“After the second vote, it has become a responsibility to find a way to solve the town’s problems,” Fire Commissioner Bruce Misarski said. “I see many possible outcomes. We hear rumors, but we’re all in this to find solutions.”

‘EXPLICIT NEEDS’

A presentation brief was given by Andrea K. Murray and Ashar Nelson of Vermont Integrated Architecture of Middlebury, Vt.

“You’re investing in this for many decades,” he said.

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