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May 08. 2013 11:05PM

Old building, new roads on Peterborough warrant

PETERBOROUGH - A $2.6 million project to improve Union Street, and the fate of GAR Hall will be in the hands of voters at the open session of Town Meeting Wednesday night.

During the ballot voting session of Town Meeting on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., voters will be asked to approve an $11,878,659 town operating budget, up 2.2 percent from last year. Voters will also be asked if they want to appropriate $155,000 for the Fleet Management Capital Reserve Fund and $50,000 for the Financial Management Software/Hardware Capital Reserve Fund.

Peterborough has a hybrid form of town government, combining elements of Senate Bill 2 procedures and traditional open town meeting. The plan allows for a third session in the form of a traditional Town Meeting.

The third session of annual Town Meeting at the Town House is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Town officials have saved meatier warrant articles for the open session, such as the three warrant articles addressing the mothballed Grand Army of the Republic Hall, which is owned by the town and in need of a major renovation, and the $2.6 million bond article for much-needed infrastructure repairs to Union Street.

Supporters would need to muster a two-thirds majority on the $2.6 million bond article to move forward with the Union Street improvement project.

"It's been obvious for quite some time that Union Street has been in need of a high level of reconstruction," said Public Works Director Rodney Bartlett on Wednesday. "Union Street carries up to 4,000 cars a day. It's one of our busiest streets in town."

Union Street starts at Main Street at the edge of downtown and continues through West Peterborough to Route 101. In between are densely populated residential areas and the town's recreation building, athletic fields and Adams playground and pool.

Traffic slowing measures would be part of the project, Bartlett said, particularly from Elm, Main and High streets toward Adams playground.

But the main focus of the project would be to reconstruct the roadbed, granite curbing and sidewalks.

Also before voters Wednesday night are three warrant articles offering three different options for the town's old civil war veteran's hall, the G.A.R. Hall.

The town mothballed the building several years ago and attempted to sell it last year. A potential buyer bid $100 and agreed to maintain the building and property's historical integrity. However, the state's Charitable Trust Foundation opposed the sale, said Bartlett.

The town was deeded the building in 1899 on the condition it be held forever by the town as a memorial and park.

The building was constructed in 1834 and was the town's first high school.

The state felt selling the building for $100 for a different use violates the restrictive deed, Bartlett said.

The first warrant article asks voters to borrow $300,000 to renovate the building so that it could be used by the town.

Another article asks voters to allow the town to sell the building and grounds, while the third warrant article asks voters to approve a measure that would satisfy the restrictive deed by placing $172,000, the appraised value of the building, into the town's parks fund.

"We certainly expect a lot of discussion on all of the three articles," Bartlett said.



mpierce@newstote.com


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