The new Hanson Elementary School project was rejected for a second time at Special Town Meeting Saturday morning, after over 1,000 residents came out to vote.
The final vote was 564 for and 522 against. The article needed a two-thirds vote in order to pass.
Board of Selectmen Chair Jim Egan said the turnout was “amazing,” but he is unsure what to do with the outcome of the vote. “I don’t really know what we can do as our next step,” he said, “We can’t do any repairs without an override, and they rejected the last one just to do the roof. I don’t know what’s going to happen if indeed we present one in May in terms of trying to make the repairs that are immediately necessary.”
Egan added that the boiler at the Maquan School broke down again this past Friday, with an estimated bill of about $8,800 to fix it. He said the tax burden will be even higher with renovations and repairs like this, than if they voted for the new school.
“If they don’t want to pay for it, they don’t want to pay for it,” Egan said, “It’s worst than pay me now or pay me later. It’s pay me later for a lot less, than if you pay me now and we build a new building. You end up with two old decrepit buildings that are falling apart and there’s no solution to that until you rebuild them.”
Egan also acknowledged that they have now lost the $29 million MSBA Grant, and will have to fund any and all repairs themselves. “We have lost that…because we aren’t willing to match their grant, in effect.”
State Representative Josh Cutler and Senator Tom Kennedy came to the meeting to talk about the MSBA process.
“The funds are there. If the project is not accepted, the funds are released to another community,” Cutler said.
Kennedy followed up Cutler’s words by saying that the decision must ultimately be the will of the taxpayers, and twice now the Hanson taxpayers have denied the project.
“At this point in time, we do not have a solution, [but] we still have a problem,” Egan said, “I don’t know where we’ll go.”