Land gift draws discussion at Bennington deliberative

  • Resident Ronnie Clough brings the wording of his proposed amendment to Moderator John J. Cronin III during Bennington’s deliberative session on Tuesday. Cronin ruled that the amendment was not needed.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Select board chair James Cleary discusses a warrant article during Bennington’s deliberative session on Tuesday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/6/2019 9:26:43 PM

A gift of land to the town constituted most of the discussion at Bennington’s deliberative session on Tuesday. 

Warrant article three asks voters to approve the donation of a 1.9-acre parcel of land located across the street from the Dodge Memorial Library from Cold Springs Land Trust. 

Should the article be passed, the land has been tabbed for the development of parking to benefit the library, the Congregational Church, and other public functions.

The article stipulates that a gazebo will be erected on the land at no cost to the town, that no additional structures can be built on the property, and that the location shall be preserved for a Christmas tree.

Resident Ronnie Clough spoke against the potential gift, citing the potential for costs associated with developing and maintaining a parking lot.

“I want a guarantee that we aren’t going to end up with a parking lot that’s paved… my tax bill is killing me,” Clough said. “… I just want to make sure I’m not buying a $100,000 parking lot.”

Clough proposed an amendment to the proposed article but Moderator John J. Cronin III said it would be unnecessary as the town could not spend money to develop the land into a parking lot without another town vote.

Resident Richard Reed questioned if a parking lot was the best use of the land, saying “do we really need a parking lot in downtown Bennington? It seems at times it would be nice, but much of the time it would probably be empty.”

A few people also spoke in favor of the article, saying that parking has long been an issue for the library and various town functions.

“I think it would be very easy for the person who owns that property to turn it into a number of other things that could be potentially detrimental to the town,” resident Joe McGregor said. “… The options are to use it as a public, town-owned  property that will benefit us from the standpoint of a gazebo, a park area, and a parking area, as opposed to potential housing or who knows what.”

There was also a question as to why the town decided to propose two articles to fund road work: one requests $15,000 for the road rehabilitation capital reserve fund and the other requests $45,000 for deferred road maintenance. 

Town Administrator Kristie LaPlante said both articles achieve the same thing in terms of allowing the town to complete needed roadwork, but having the second article allows the town to target additional roadwork that is needed most in town. 

At $1,745,773, the proposed operating budget is only $16,538, or .95 percent, higher than last year’s approved budget. 

If the proposed budget is not passed, a $1,743,505 budget will be implemented. 

One article asks voters to repurpose a capital reserve fund. A two-thirds vote will be required to change the rescue chassis capital reserve fund to the rescue vehicle capital reserve fund. 

If passed, a warrant article will allow the town to develop a sewer department management plan with the aid of a $30,000 loan from the NH DES Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

All of the loan’s principal will be forgiven, meaning there will be no tax impact to the town. 

A “housekeeping” article asks voters to adopt an ordinance waiving the permit fee to register a motor vehicle owned by a person who was “captured and incarcerated for 30 days or more while serving in a qualifying war or armed conflict” and was honorably discharged. 

Many of the articles ask voters to replenish town funds:

■$25,000 for the fire truck capital reserve fund

■$10,000 for the police cruiser capital reserve fund

■$1,000 for the sidewalk capital reserve fund

■$25,000 for the water department maintenance and repairs capital reserve fund

■$1,000 for the mower capital reserve fund

■$5,000 for the Dodge Memorial Library capital reserve fund

■$2,000 for the fire department breathing apparatus capital reserve fund

■$5,700 for the fire department protective gear capital reserve fund

■$30,000 for the town buildings expendable trust fund

■$37,000 for the highway heavy equipment capital reserve fund

■$10,000 for the bridge maintenance expendable trust fund

There are also a number of articles requesting the town to support area organizations that provide services to the town:

■$1,000 for End 68 Hours of Hunger

■$6,000 for The Grapevine Family and Community Resource Center

■$700 for the American Red Cross

■$500 for Contoocook Valley Transportation Company (CVTC)

■$500 for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)

■$300 for Contoocook Housing Trust

■$1,000 for Child Advocacy Center of Hillsborough County.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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