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WESTFORD — Voters have officially authorized funding he J.V. Fletcher Library expansion, but funding for a new town center building at 51 Main St. will have to wait.
J.V. Fletcher Library expansion funding passes
In a 436 to 141 vote, voters authorized approximately $32.5 million to expand and renovate the J.V. Fletcher Library. The project would update sections of the building that are no longer up to fire and Americans with Disabilities Act code, expand its children’s space and meet sustainability goals outlined by the town’s Roadmap to Net Zero.
“[I am feeling] immense joy and relief that it passed tonight,” Director of the J.V. Fletcher Library Ellen Rainville told WestfordCAT. “We were realistic about the financial climate, but we are happy it passed.”
Project funding will be offset by an approximate $7.85 million grant from the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program, which awarded a provisional grant for the project earlier this year.
The project will return for a second vote on the Special Town Election ballot on Nov. 8, where voters will decide whether or not to include to project in the town’s excluded debt.
51 Main St. project funding delayed
In a 319 to 259 vote, voters passed a motion to dismiss Article 5, which would have authorized approximately $12 million for construction for a new municipal building at 51 Main St.
“It’s disappointing, I’ll leave it at that,” Select Board Chair Andrea Peraner-Sweet told WestfordCAT after the vote.
The proposed building would replace the existing fire station at 51 Main St., which has stood since 1974. This station has been vacant since its replacement in 2018, when the town completed its fire headquarters located on Boston Road.
The proposed building would house a new multi-function space which could serve as a 100-seat meeting room, community room or police training room, as well as office space for the Technology Department, Veterans Services Department and the Facilities Department. The building would also provide office space for the Sustainability Coordinator and Wellness Coordinator.
Officials site “consistently inadequate space” for the public to attend in-person meetings.
Members of the Permanent Town Building Committee advocated for continued discussions on the article, citing an increase in construction costs if the project is delayed.
“If this motion to dismiss passes, and this project does not get voted on tonight, it will be set back at least another year,” said Permanent Town Building Committee Chair Tom Mahanna.
He continued, “if we have to delay this project at least another year, the cost of this project will go up substantially.
Proponents of dismissing the article argued that the project did not fit the scope of Special Town Meeting, citing that the project does not “fine-tune” the budget previously adopted in June.
The project will still appear on the Nov. 8 ballot where voters will decide whether or not to authorize a debt exclusion for the project.
“If it were to pass at the ballot, then, assuming it is the same project without additional funding, there would be a potential to have another Town Meeting vote in the future,” said John Giorgio, who serves as town counsel.
In addition to dismissing Article 5, voters authorized the Select Board to reintroduce a similar article during a future Annual Town Meeting.
Results of remaining articles
Article 1 was disposed of by a majority.
The consent agenda consisting of Article 3, Article 7, Article 8 and Article 10 passed by a majority.
Article 2 passed unanimously.
Article 4 passed by a majority.
Article 9 passed by a two-thirds majority with 346 voting in favor and 38 opposed.
Article 11 passed by a majority with 342 in favor and 7 opposed.
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