Town office project rejected
By Darren Marcy
Staff Writer | January 29,2014
Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Castleton election workers Joan Eaton, left, and Pat Graziano check off people coming to vote during Tuesday’s special election held at the American Legion Post #50 hall.
CASTLETON — Back to the drawing board.
Voters rejected a proposed $1.1 million renovation of the old town hall office at 556 Main St. by nearly 200 votes Tuesday.
The bond failed 607-416, leaving the future of Castleton’s town office unclear.
The failure of the bond vote was great news to Selectwoman Cristine Smith, an outspoken critic of renovating the old town office building.
“I’m thrilled,” Smith said after the numbers were announced. “I think it was a definitive referendum by this town. They do not want to renovate that building.”
Smith and other critics contended the renovation was a more costly option than building a new town office as part of the new town firehouse planned to be built on Route 30.
“The truth prevailed,” Smith said. “They came to the conclusion that renovating 556 was the most costly (option) and will always be the most costly. It came down to numbers.”
Selectman Wenger Rehlen has been a supporter of the renovation efforts of the town office building and took the news a bit harder, admitting the “no” decision was substantial.
“We’re back to square one,” Rehlen said. “It was a good margin.”
Moving forward, Rehlen said, the next step wasn’t perfectly clear just yet and he couldn’t say if there would be interest in continuing to pursue 556 Main St.
“A lot of people have worked really hard for a long time,” Rehlen said. “There are some unanswered questions. It’s too early, until we explore some other things, to say we’re out or we’re not out.”
He added, “I will do whatever the people want. If the people want to move forward with a new building, I’ll do that. Aside from my own personal beliefs, I’ll do what the people want.”
Tuesday’s vote was the culmination of a lengthy process that started when a previous bond vote, which passed, was declared invalid because of a comment made by Select Board Chairman Thomas Ettori at a meeting before the vote.
The board chose to get bids to determine the actual cost, then put a bond vote to the citizens.
The total cost for the renovation had been projected to be $1.1 million, with a $240,000 donation from the Donchian Foundation reducing the cost to taxpayers to $860,000, which is the amount voters were asked to determine Tuesday.