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Troy voters accept community center donation

Union Leader Correspondent

March 16. 2014 9:18PM

TROY — Town meeting voters approved the construction of a community center, but voted down a proposal to withdraw from the Monadnock Cooperative School District.

About 75 voters turned out to the town meeting Wednesday night.

Voters accepted a large private donation to build the community center by a unanimous voice vote, according to select board member William Matson.

The Samuel E. Paul Community Center is planned to be built at the Samuel E. Paul War Memorial Recreation Area.

Paul was a local doctor in the 1940s and 50s. Before he moved to California he left money to the town to create the recreation area that is named in his honor.

The recreation area is locally known as the Sand Dam, and includes a pond, basketball courts, baseball field and a skate park, which will also be upgraded as part of the project.

His son Peter Paul is donating $179,000 to fund the project which includes a 40 foot by 60 foot multi-use community room.

The center would have a large main room with a divider for meetings, a full size kitchen, bathrooms and a cellar for storage.

The project received all the support it needed including approval of two other warrant articles, Matson said, one allowing for the establishment of a fund to be used to maintain the building.

“We have the donation for the building and we have the money to keep it up so it’s a win-win all way around,” Matson said. “So our recreation committee is revitalized and planning again so it’s a very good thing all around.”

A petition article that called for the creation of a committee to study the town’s withdrawal from the Monadnock Regional School District was defeated by a voice vote.

The school district includes Fitzwilliam, Gilsum, Richmond, Troy, Roxbury and Swanzey. The towns of Surry and Sullivan withdrew from the district over the past few years.

The movement to look into a school district withdrawal was triggered by a vote at Monadnock’s annual meeting in March 2013 that approved a petition article brought forward by Roxbury residents to change the formula the towns follow to determine how much they owe the district.

The formula had been 50 percent student enrollment and 50 percent town property valuation. The new formula took effect July 1 and is based on 75 percent student enrollment and 25 percent town property valuation.

Troy residents are bearing the brunt of the change and went from paying $136,000 a month to the district to $218,000 a month.

Troy town officials say according to state law a petition article cannot change a school district formula, but the state Board of Education let the change go through anyway, Matson said.The town is currently appealing the matter in Cheshire County Superior Court.

“Dick Thackston, one of our school board members, spoke against it and basically explained, ‘if you don’t like paying for 75 percent of the cost of the student how would you like paying 100 percent,’” Matson said.

Voters overwhelmingly opposed the petition article by a voice vote, Thackston said Friday.

“Withdrawal from the school district cooperative by Troy makes absolutely no financial sense for a couple of basic reasons,” he said.

The district is more than 50 years old, and Troy has a 200-year history of cooperative education with Fitzwilliam and Swanzey, he said.

There are ongoing efforts to reduce the cost per student in the district, which has one of the highest per student costs in the state, Thackston said. And like other school districts Monadnock is facing a decline in enrollment.

“Overall, Cheshire County has an aging population,” he said.

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