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Dublin votes to keep Town Meeting, approves new Recycling Center storage building

  • The Dublin Town Meeting was held drive-in style at the Cricket Hill Farm in Dublin on Saturday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • The Dublin Town Meeting was held drive-in style at the Cricket Hill Farm in Dublin on Saturday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • The Dublin Town Meeting was held drive-in style at the Cricket Hill Farm in Dublin on Saturday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • The Dublin Town Meeting was held drive-in style at the Cricket Hill Farm in Dublin on Saturday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/2/2021 9:30:51 AM

Dublin will continue its Town Meeting tradition next year, after voters resoundingly voted to keep the town’s current format, rather than switch to ballot voting.

In a drive-in Town Meeting at Cricket Hill Farm on Saturday, voters said “no” in a 118-20 vote on an article which would have implemented the voting system known as “SB2,” which allows voters to debate and amend articles at a deliberative session, and then vote on all issues at a later date at the polls. John Morris, who submitted the petition article, said ballot voting allows more people to be involved in the process of town government.

“A lot of people can’t be here,” Morris said, referring to the Town Meeting. “It’s important to let people weigh in on these ballot issues.”

Other residents spoke in favor of the Town Meeting format, admitting that while typically ballot voting has a higher turnout than Town Meeting, the deliberative sessions are infamously under-attended.

“It seems like a good idea, but in my experience, it is not,” said resident May Clark, who said attendance at ConVal Regional School District’s deliberative sessions is typically “pitifully low.”

While the article on switching to SB2 was the only article which required ballot voting by law, voters at Dublin’s Town Meeting requested secret ballots on a number of other issues, including one that would become the most split decision of the day – a $5,000 contribution to the Dublin Community Center.

Residents were split nearly down the middle on whether to approve the support. Several residents objected to recent statements made by the board of the Community Center around the subject of racial injustice and the existence of systemic racism in the United States.

Some residents said the Community Center, by taking the position that systemic racism exists, was choosing a political view. Some said they disagreed with the assertion, and others said if the Community Center continues to take “political stances” it should not accept taxpayer funds.

Resident Rick MacMillan said the Community Center had “forfeited its position as a place of community healing” and had become “a divisive organization.”

Others objected to that characterization, with Dublin Community Church Pastor Traceymay Kalvaitis saying that the Community Center’s position as an organization that is welcoming to all creeds and races is the opposite of divisive.

“If that’s an issue, then I’m confused, because that’s not the town I understand I live in,” Kalvaitis said.

The ballot vote on the issue was 59-59, a tie, which would have resulted in the article failing to pass. However, Moderator Timothy Clark, who had previously announced he would only vote on an issue in the event of a tie, or to create a tie, cast the deciding vote, passing the article with 60 yes votes to 59 nos.

Voters also approved the use of the Recycling Special Revenue Fund to fund two projects at the town’s Recycling Center.

The town approved by show of cards a $1,750 repair of the roof of the Swap Shop at the transfer station. In a separate article, submitted by petition, Transfer Station Superintendent Tom Kennedy advocated to use the revenue fund to build a new building for recycling storage.

The current system uses multiple trailers for storage, and an alternative article would have spent $20,000 to purchase four new recycling storage units. Kennedy pled with voters to support building a permanent structure instead, for a cost of $110,000.

“It makes me cringe, too,” Kennedy said, of the price. “But for the 50 years, it will be the best choice.”

Kennedy said the current storage trailers were a “nightmare” with rotting floors and sagging roofs, and two have been condemned by the Building Inspector.

“They have been fraught with problems from the beginning,” he said.

The Select Board and Budget Committee both did not recommend the permanent building, and one of the reasons cited was a flagging recycling market, which board members said there is no guarantee will recover post-pandemic. Kennedy said one of the aims of the transfer station has always been the good of the environment, and that the trailers were also a safety hazard, and money should not be put before the lives and safety of transfer station employees, especially when the funds had already been raised in an account specifically for transfer station improvements.

The town voted 107-21 in favor of using the funds to build a permanent building, and passed over the article requesting funding for trailers.

In other ballot votes, the town voted 75-15 in favor of raising $17,270 to purchase and install two plaques honoring Dublin veterans who served in the Korean War and the Vietnam Conflict, and to clean the two existing veterans’ plaques at the Town Hall. Voeers also agreed 118 to 8 to spend $15,000 from the building maintenance reserve to repair the ramp and railing at the Dublin Post Office, and 93-34 to survey the property of Rotary Park for $5,250.

With the exception of the article requesting funds for the transfer station trailers, which was passed over, all other articles passed unamended, including the town budget, which was approved at $2,083,412, and contributions to the town’s capital reserves in line with the proposed capital improvement plan.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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