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Town Meeting Articles Propose To Renovate and Rehabilitate

May 30, 2019 01:05AM ● By Lisa Redmond

Dracut 2018 Annual Town Meeting.

By Lisa Redmond

DRACUT – At the Annual Town Meeting next week, Dracut voters will be asked to dig through 40 articles including using Community Preservation Committee funds to help pay for the $5.4 million athletic complex at the high school, renovate the playing fields and splash pad at Veteran’s Park, as well as rehabilitate the Dracut Center School for veteran housing.

The Annual Town Meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 3 in the Richardson Center for the Performing Arts at Dracut High School at 1540 Lakeview Ave.

Some of the articles on the Town Meeting warrant are boiler plate financial articles, such as funding the deficit in the snow and ice account. But there are some big-ticket items that have sparked debate over the past few months that will finally be resolved with a vote of Town Meeting.

Some of the more noteworthy Town Meeting warrant articles are as follows:

Article 8- To use $300,000 from free cash to purchase a new fire truck (Engine 2).

Article 9 – Pull $350,000 from free cash to purchase equipment for the federal stormwater program, such a street sweeper, excavator and trailer.

Article 21 – Requests using $660,000 in CPC funds to rehabilitate the former Dracut Center School at 11 Spring Park Ave. for 9 units of veteran’s housing to be owned by the Coalition for a Better Acre. Dracut veterans will be given preference for six or seven units.

The Community Preservation Act is funded through a local option surcharge on property tax bills and a state match on those surcharges. CPA funds are designed to help communities preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing, and develop outdoor recreational facilities.

Article 22 – Lease to a private and/or non-profit town-owned parcels of land for agricultural and/or open space purchases: Yapp Farm, 650 Marshall Hill Road; Beaver Brook Farm, 761 Mammoth Road; and 170 Crosby Road.

The CPC has acquired farmland and open space for the purpose of retaining Dracut’s rural character and active agricultural use that can be used for growing hay.

Article 27 – A citizen’s petition to reduce the CPC assessment on property taxes to 1 percent from 2 percent.

Article 28, 29 – A citizen’s petition to cap for the next five years the Town Manager James Duggan’s base salary at $174,250 and School Superintendent Steven Stone’s base salary at $173,123. At a recent selectmen’s meeting, Cathy Richardson said the salary cap is “not personal to Jim and Steven,’’ but when town finances are tight the top jobs should set the example.

However, Town Council James Hall Sr. noted this is an improper article because setting the salaries of these top positions is “beyond the authority of Town Meeting’’ under the Town Charter.

Articles 30, 31, and 32 – Supported by the Dracut Republican Commission, these articles focused on eliminating a proposed stormwater fee. The articles are moot because the Select Board rejected a fee.

Articles 33-35 – Sponsored by the new Ad Hoc Coalition to Fix Our Schools, co-founder Rich Cowan requests Town Meeting establish a stabilization fund to be used to replace or repair school roofs, insulate school walls, and improve HVAC systems. According to Cowan, the Coalition will be withdrawing Articles 34 and 35, as Town Manager Jim Duggan has added $200,000 to the budget to create plans for the Englesby and Brookside roof redesign. Additional funding will be pursued through the state.

Article 33 will move forward.

Article 40 – Asks Town Meeting to approve spending a total of $5,495,202 to rehabilitate the playing fields and splash pad at Veteran’s Park and to install two synthetic turf fields, and renovate and resurface the resilient track surface at the Dracut Public Schools Daoulos Complex with $4,463,952 being paid by the CPC and to borrow $1,031,250.

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