Lanesborough Approves All Warrant Articles at Special Town Meeting
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Voters approved all 15 warrant articles at a special town meeting held Saturday.
Town officials and residents, both in-person and via livestream, convened at Lanesborough Elementary School.
Nearly 50 voters were in attendance to vote on the 15 articles. Select Board members Gordon Hubbard and John Goerlach were unable to attend the meeting due to both being on vacation at the time.
The town voted to approve article one, which will use $100,000 of free cash to renovate several aspects of town hall. Proposed improvements include new carpet, new windows, washing and painting of both the interior and exterior of the building.
Additionally, residents voted for an amendment to the article to address air quality issues in the building.
Town Administrator Joshua Lang said the proposed renovations should help significantly improve the town hall. He said Lanesborough is also looking at grants for the project and he should know the exact cost of the project once the town completes the bidding process.
"Overall, our vision for the town building is to increase the functionality of the building," Lang said.
In addition to this money, Lang said the town will be looking to make improvements to the building long-term as well.
"We are going to be looking at long-range planning for town hall as part of our planning process for energy efficiency, such as the windows that's mentioned but LED lighting and other things of that sort to help improve overall operations and town hall," he said.
Residents approved Article 2, which will use $335,000 of free cash to replace the sidewalk and curb on Summer Street from Route 7 to the Lanesborough Elementary School. This project will be started and completed in the summer when school is not in session.
Department of Public Works Director William DeCelles said the sidewalk, as is currently, is a hazard and needs to be replaced. He noted granite sidewalks are much more durable than concrete or other options.
"If anybody has walked the sidewalk, anyone with children or parents, or anything, you can see it it's really in rough shape," he said. "It's all inverted, it's all cracked; It's overdue. When we do it, a new sidewalk it's going to have to be all ADA compliant and with all the ramps and everything."
Residents approved Article 13, which amends town bylaws to move the annual town meeting from the second Tuesday in June to the third Saturday in May. An amendment to not specify a specific time in the bylaw, allowing the Select Board to decide.
There was significant discussion over approving this article. Resident Barbara Davis-Hassan said a similar proposal was denied at a previous town meeting and a vote like this would be more suited to a normal town meeting rather than a special one.
"One of the big reasons was the combination of graduation and athletic programs for the kids and parents, of course, want to come to these things. I'd be against this," she said.
Resident Linda Pryne said moving the date and time would allow more seniors to attend. She said the usual 7 p.m. time is too late for many senior residents.
"The Council on Aging supported this article and one of the reasons that it was voted down at one of the annual meetings is that the time on a Tuesday, when a meeting usually goes at least four hours until 10 p.m. is difficult for a lot of seniors," she said. "And so the senior population wasn't really represented in that annual meeting where it was voted down. It was presented this meeting because if we could get it voted that it would be for the coming annual meeting."
Select Board member Michael Murphy voiced his support for the amendment, noting it would be a considerable service to the elderly and families with young children in the community.
"I'm totally in support of this," he said. "We've given it a lot of thought in the short time I've been a selectman. I've been to an annual meeting, while I was on the board, where I heard from many people, seniors, as well as families with young children, unable to attend, unable to stay until 10 or 11 o'clock at night."
The town passed Article 3, which will use $125,000 of free cash to mill and repave one lane on Summer Street from Old Cheshire Road to Old State Road. Part of Old State Road, where a water line install recently took place, will also see repair as part of this article.
Article six passed, meaning the town will raise, appropriate, transfer from other funds or borrow $38,865.57 to purchase or lease a vehicle for the Lanesborough Police Department.
Article 11 transfers $101,000 from the ambulance enterprise fund as payment for the previously approved new ambulance vehicle.
Article 9 will see $6,000 from the tax title treasurer expense account to pay Community Paradigm Associates LLC. Lanesborough used the services of Consultant Bernard Lynch of Paradigm Associates during its town administrator search.
Residents voted to approve Article 5, which will appropriate $430.56 of free cash for salaries and expenses for the library director and $193.5 for library staff. Town officials said this money corrects an oversight at the previous town meeting, where library salary and budget increases were not applied.
Article ten moves the mandatory retirement age for firefighting personnel from 65 to 70 years old. Article 12 also relates to the Lanesborough Fire Department and will transfer from free cash $2,895 to pay for 10-year warranties for two generators for the department.
Article 7 will transfer $210 from free cash in order to buy a timer for use at future town meetings. This timer will show both residents and moderators a speaker's remaining time to speak.
The town passed article eight, which will transfer $1,008.65 from free cash to the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission for stormwater management services.
Residents passed article four, in which the town will accept a deed in lieu of foreclosure for property on Silver Street.
Article 14 tweaks the zoning bylaws related to obtaining site plan approval in the town. Article 15 also tweaks zoning bylaws to business storage of office space, materials and vehicles.
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