Hanson Board of Selectmen have voted to send the new Elementary School proposal to the voters for a third and final time, but this time it will be in the form of a ballot question at the annual election on May 17th.
The Selectmen’s vote passed 4-1.
The school has already been voted against twice, once at Special Town Meeting in October and again at Special Town meeting in January.
Selectmen Chair Jim Egan said bringing the issue to a ballot vote this time is the most “democratic and reasonable” thing to do.
“I think it’s probably the most positive thing we can do,” Egan said, “It gets the people involved right away. It allows them to make a choice, and that’s what we need, that’s what we’ve been trying to do all along, and it’s gratifying to know that we finally got there.”
Town Administrator Ronald San Angelo agreed that a ballot vote is the best way to go at this point.
“Everybody will have an opportunity to vote either for the school or against the school, and we can put this issue to bed once and for all,” San Angelo said.
San Angelo added that the project has not changed since its original proposal, and will still include the $29 million reimbursement from the MSBA. San Angelo said the MSBA extended the funding deadline until June 4th.
Egan gave several residents a final chance to publicly express their thoughts on this issue at the Selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night. He set the following ground rules: each speaker got 1 minute to speak, they were to address the Selectmen with respect, and were to only state facts, not lies.
Some of the general comments and questions focused on sending the issue back to Town Meeting a third time instead of to a ballot vote. Egan did not agree, and thinks that “everything that needs to be said has been said.”
This school issue has also caused two members of the Selectmen, Egan and Amico, to potentially be recalled.
Over 1,000 residents in town signed a petition for recall. Egan said the petitioners’ reason for recall was due to a “difference in opinion” on the proposed new school.
“It’s a strange reason for a recall,” San Angelo said, “Usually you’re recalled because you did something illegal…as I understand it they’re being recalled because they’re doing their job; they’re taking a position on an issue, which I thought is what Selectmen were supposed to do.”
San Angelo added that Amico could potentially be recalled if the people vote for it, but Egan could not because his term expires this year.
“His current term is going to be expired…so there’s nothing to recall him from, ” San Angelo said.
Egan said both he and Amico did exactly what their position calls for them to do.
“After receiving an endorsement of the Board, to go out and try to put into action that Board’s vote is totally and completely appropriate,” Egan said, “That’s exactly what we did, and that is no reason whatsoever to have any kind of a recall.”
Egan said he does plan to run for re-election in May. He acknowledged that “a difference of opinion is not grounds for recall.”