WINCHESTER - Town Meeting supported all six Capital Planning Committee sponsored articles, three of which involved bridges in town. The Select Board and Finance Committee recommended favorable action on all motions.
Under Article 11, Town Meeting voted to appropriate money for nine various departmental needs including five from the Department of Public Works. The DPW received a new sidewalk plow and blower ($148,000), new swap loader hook truck with packer/salter/plow ($187,000), a new Bobcat for downtown sidewalk snow removal/sweeping ($35,000), a new salter truck ($184,000), and the removal of underground fuel tanks ($25,000).
Town Meeting also approved a new elevator and stage lift at the Parkhurst School ($910,000), which will, according to the School Committee, “create a permanent flexible space.” The school may be needed as swing space if/when the town replaces the Muraco or Lynch School.
It had previously been used as swing space during the Vinson-Owen School project; however, at the time, the state granted the town a waiver for the school not being ADA compliant. Today, as School Committee and Capital Planning Committee member Chris Nixon noted, the building can’t be used by anyone for any reason until it’s up to code.
Town Meeting also approved money for sink and cabinet replacement at the Muraco School ($110,000) and the replacement of the Manchester Field track ($150,000). Finally, Town Meeting supported construction work for traffic improvements at Church Street at Waterfield Road. According to Toole Design Group, the project will narrow the intersection, shorten the crosswalk and improve visibility.
Under Article 12, Town Meeting voted to appropriate additional money ($240,000) for the Swanton Street Bridge improvement project. This is in addition to the $2.8M Town Meeting voted at last Fall Town Meeting. The additional money comes due to a delay in the project that involved the town receiving an easement.
Under Article 13, Town Meeting voted to appropriate $1.5M for the Lake Street Bridge replacement project. This may involved closing either all or half of Lake Street. Capital Planning Committee member Jim Johnson believed it may just wind up being a partial closure. He also said they would continue to incorporate the bike path into the design of the new bridge.
Under Article 14, Town Meeting voted to appropriate $1M for the Waterfield Road Bridge rehabilitation and repair project. Construction on this project should being in 2020.
For all the construction work, Select Board Chair Mariano Goluboff said the town would hire a traffic consultant to help it navigate potential traffic issues with so many construction projects taking place around the same time. That money, he said, would come from the Engineering Department or some other source.
Under Article 15, Town Meeting voted to appropriate $340,000 for the engineering, design and permitting of improvements to address deficiencies at the North Reservoir Dam, Gate House and Low Level Outlet.
Under Article 16, Town Meeting voted to appropriate $925,000 for traffic improvements associated with the McCall Middle School expansion project in the areas of Main Street at Washington Street and Mystic Valley Parkway at Waterfield Road. Improvements involve pedestrian, bicycle and traffic safety.
Construction on this project will also begin in 2020. Goluboff informed Town Meeting it has been one of the top priorities of the Select Board. They held several public hearings over the past few months and received resident feedback.
During Town Meeting, some members spoke out against the plans, but the motion passed 106-11.