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Recreation field warrant generates discussion in Windham

WINDHAM - The 50 or so people at the Windham town deliberative session Saturday had the chance to address such topics as a proposed recreation field, a large conservation land purchase, and several collective bargaining agreements.

Article 4 asks voters to approve a $275,000 multi-use recreation field. About $95,000 of that amount would come from general taxation monies, with the remainder coming from bonds.

Recreation Commissioner Dennis Senibaldi said the town hadn't expanded its public playing area since the opening of Griffin Park a dozen years ago, though recreation programs continue to grow.

Senibaldi said donations to date, valued in excess of $250,000, have been provided to cover engineering costs and site preparations.

The item was moved forward, unchanged, to the March ballot.

Also approved for the ballot was a citizen's petition article for a $860,000 bonded purchase of the historic Campbell Farm on Kendall Pond Road. The site would remain a protected conservation spot, with the town making annual payments of $85,000 toward the bond over the next decade.

Resident Betty Dunn said it's important to preserve the town's historic places in the wake of modern development.

"This farm has been in Windham since the 1700s," Dunn said. "This property has enormous potential for recreation and education."

Article 9, a $16,290 contract with the town's municipal union, was approved with little comment.

"This is the year of contracts," said Selectman Roger Hohenberger, noting this three-year contract includes a 2 percent cost-of-living raises for the municipal workers.

Also approved was Article 10, a $74,820 contract with the town's firefighter union. It includes provisions for longevity stipends, as well as 2.5 percent cost-of-living raises starting this April.

Hohenberger noted the firefighters haven't seen a cost-of-living raise in three years.

Article 11 - a $195,770 contract with the town's police union - represents the first contract in several years.

"This is a great opportunity to get us back on track this year," said Selectman Al Letizio.

The contract, moved forward unchanged to the March ballot, includes 2.5 percent cost-of-living wage increases starting April 1 and a cap on accrued earned time of 960 hours.

Article 29, Windham's proposed $13,461,811 operating budget, represents a $793,939 increase over the current year's budget.

Ballot voting on all town and school items will take place Tuesday, March 11, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Windham High School.

- April GuilmentSunday News Correspondent

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