Voters reject office repairs

Judy Taranovich informs the selectboard of the decision of the Mortimer Proctor Fund trustees.

PROCTOR — Voters at Town Meeting on Monday night were not pleased with the plans presented by the selectboard that would have remodeled the front of the town hall, but would not have made the Town Office fully ADA compliant.

Voters approved all the articles at Town Meeting except for Article 7 that would have funded restoration of the Town Office and repairs to the wall in front of the office.

Many residents stated that if the selectboard were going to spend money on making the town office look better, they would like to see it become fully ADA compliant.

One Proctor resident said that he would like to attend selectboard meetings, but could not make it up the stairs anymore.

John Zawistoski speaks on the Town Office project.

“I was on a committee that was looking into making the office ADA compliant,” John Zawistoski said. “We had plans several years ago to add a chair lift for the upstairs meeting room.”

Town Manager Stan Wilbur said, “I was disappointed the article didn’t pass.”

The town has received a grant of $20,000 from the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation that would require a 50 percent match from the town for a project to repair the wall in front of the office. The Clerk’s office was also found needing extensive restoration after an air quality investigation that was conducted this past summer.

The article that was turned down by voters would have funded both the front wall and the clerk’s office restoration. The front wall project has a tentative contract with Wright Construction with a price tag of $96,818, while the clerk’s office project was estimated to cost $112,000. The article asked voters to approve a bond for $161,660, with the rest of the funding coming from a reserve fund.

“Currently, the front wall is braced to keep it from falling onto the sidewalk in front of the building,” Wilbur said. “The building is the oldest standing building in Proctor.”

Proctor Selectboard chair Bruce Baccei and Town Manager Stan Wilbur answer questions about an article that would have funded restorations to the town office.

The building, constructed in 1836, was originally a schoolhouse and was used as such until 1866. In 1891, the marble entrance steps leading up to the front porch were added, and the building was renovated into a public library. After WWI, the building became the Memorial Municipal Building, and has been the Proctor Town Hall since that time. It is listed on the State Register of Historic Places and is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It also lies within the Proctor Village Historic District.

When asked at the meeting if they filed for other funding, selectboard member Judy Frazier said they had filed a request from the Mortimer Proctor fund for the repairs and restorations, but had not heard the decision from the fund trustees.

“I’m on the board of the Proctor fund, and I’ll be the bearer of bad news,” Judy Taranovich said. “Due to not meeting certain guidelines for the fund, the application has been turned down.”

The residents discussed the matter further for some time. When moderator Andrew Maas called the vote, the voice vote was close, but Maas called it for the no’s. No paper ballot was called for.

“We’ll go back and work out a new plan,” Wilbur said. “It’ll likely be the same plan as this one, but we’ll add the chairlift (to make it ADA compliant.)”

Other articles passed with minor discussion. The voters approved $67,000 for the Proctor Free Library, $499,533 for the town’s highway fund, and $848,583 for the town’s general fund. Also approved was $13,148 for various non-profit organizations, the establishment and transfer of $20,000 for new streetlights on Main Street, and allowing the town to charge interest at a rate of up to 1.5 percent on delinquent water charges.

On Tuesday, Bruce Baccei won a three-year term on the selectboard and Benjamin Curtis won a two-year term. Andrew Maas was re-elected as moderator. All three ran unopposed.

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