At Monday night’s meeting, aldermen voted to proceed with a $750,000 project to build a new facility to house the town’s 236 vehicles on the town’s 19-acre Rosenbaum property, situated on Old State Route 34. The funding also appropriates about about $250,000 for a separate wastewater building, as the current town garage on North Lincoln Avenue houses water distribution, meters and street department operations.
Mayor Kelly Wolfe said the move partly comes from getting the garage, which is almost 40 years old, out of a residential area, but also because the current garage just isn’t adequate to house all the town’s vehicles and other operations.
“Everything imaginable goes on at the city garage,” Wolfe said during the meeting. “Modern-day city operations, and ones that have grown like ours has grown in the past decade especially, need modern-day garage facilities.”
Wolfe said that the projects could be paid off in four years, and aldermen David Sell, Terry Countermine and Chuck Vest all approved the motion with Jerome Fitzgerald absent from the meeting. Before the board approved the resolution, though, Cliff Goins, who lives across the road in a condominium complex from the property that the new garage would occupy, said he didn’t agree with the placement of the new garage.
Wolfe assured Goins that per the proposed site plan that the facility would be about 500 feet up the road from the complex, and that there would be a buffer of trees planted by the end of the project. Town administrator Bob Browning added that the property has been zoned for manufacturing for about 20 years, but Goins was still unsure.
“They’re going to move one eyesore from there, and move it to my house,” Goins said to the board, adding, “It’s going to hurt the sell prices in there . . . Who wants to buy a condominium across the street from where (all the vehicles) are going to be?”
After passing that resolution, the board turned its attention to what would become of the property the garage currently occupies behind the senior center. Wolfe said part of it would go to add much-needed parking for the center, but also brought back the notion of a park that could be funded by a $500,000 parks and recreation grant awarded through the state.
The town would have to match the $500,000 grant and have a two-year deadline to complete the project, but Wolfe said he was confident that the value of the land coupled with the use of town equipment and labor would aid in matching the funding for the grant.
The proposed park would have a community garden, a walking trail, an amphitheater, a meditation garden and space to play badminton, horseshoes and shuffleboard.
While the board unanimously voted to accept the grant, alderman David Sell expressed some concerns with having too many projects going on at once. The town garage and wastewater buildings would have to be completed and moved before work on the park begins, and those along with the ongoing Jackson Theater restoration project made him wonder if the town is stretching its resources too thin.
Town Operations manager Craig Ford agreed that managing all the projects would take planning and a consideration of priorities and allocation of resources. He said he would do whatever he could to make sure it all gets done on time.
“If these are approved, and they are three major, major projects with the town garage, with the Jackson Theater and with this park, if these get approved I will go to work in the morning and the first thing I will do is sequencing these things out,” he said.
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