Temple Select Board says no funds allocated for garage survey

Jim Kingston speaks to Select Board members Tuesday night.

Jim Kingston speaks to Select Board members Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI

Select Board Chair Bill Ezell listens to a request for funding from the highway garage study committee.

Select Board Chair Bill Ezell listens to a request for funding from the highway garage study committee. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

The Temple Highway Garage, located behind the Temple Town Hall.

The Temple Highway Garage, located behind the Temple Town Hall. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI

By ASHLEY SAARI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 10-13-2023 8:47 AM

No money is allocated for expenses related to studying a future site for the Temple Highway garage, the Select Board told members of the study committee who appeared before them on Tuesday seeking $2,000 to survey the current garage property.

Study committee member Jim Kingston said there are questions a survey of the property could answer on issues such as potential environmental impacts.

“In order to create a quality study, we need a quality survey,” Kingston said. “We don’t understand the land well enough to know whether all our needs are met.”

Kingston said surveyor Russ Huntley had agreed to volunteer his time to conduct the survey, but there were some ancillary costs amounting to about $2,000, and asked if there were any sources of funding to cover the cost.

The study committee was formed in June, after citizens petitioned to hold a special Town Meeting to rescind an article approved in March specifying a 5-acre portion of land known as the Skladany land off Route 45 for a future highway garage. The same meeting also established a committee to evaluate all options pertaining to the continued use of the current Highway Department site, including a feasibility study and cost analysis to report to the 2024 Town Meeting.

Nowhere in either article were funds requested to accomplish those goals, Select Board Chair Bill Ezell pointed out, and if there had been, he said the committee had not met the requirement for voter turnout to approve additional funds at a special Town Meeting.

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“I have a huge problem with this,” Ezell said.

Ezell said he was “annoyed,” and that advocates for establishing the committee had told townspeople that there were no funds required.

Selectman Ken Caisse echoed the sentiment.

“You created this committee knowing we had no funds for this,” Caisse said, adding that the town’s “hands were tied” on the matter, as there were no funds for the committee laid out either in the warrant article or in the town’s budget.

Ezell and Caisse both said the core concept of surveying the property was sound. Ezell said it would be nice to have, independent of whether the highway garage remains in its current location. Caisse called it a potential “powerful tool,” but both reiterated that if the study committee wanted to use town funds, it would have to make a request either through a warrant article or the town budget, and have voters approve it in March.

Amy Cabana, one of the members of the study committee, said those who petitioned for the Town Meeting didn’t ask for funds because they knew there was “a ton of resistance.” But she said with a vote of 180-70 during the special Town Meeting in favor of rescinding the article specifying the Skladany land for the garage, there was a high amount of interest in exploring other options.

Cabana said it would “behoove” the board to see if there were any discretionary funds to support the survey, saying she was “not sure how it’s going to go over” to not support the relatively small cost.

“We’re kind of at a standstill without it,” Cabana said.

Ezell repeated that it was not a matter of supporting or not supporting, but rather that the funds were not allocated for the use.

“You don’t like it, talk to the state,” Ezell said.

The board said there was nothing to preclude the committee from raising the money themselves if they felt they could not move forward without the survey, but that they would not be allocating funds from the budget.

Kingston agreed the committee would look into that option.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on X @AshleySaariMLT.