NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – Northbridge voters at a special town meeting on Tuesday again rejected a proposal for a new department of public works facility.
It was the fourth DPW proposal to go before voters in the last two years.
A majority of the 227 voters who attended the meeting supported the $3.1 million Douglas Road project, but with a two-thirds vote required, the proposal failed by about 12 votes.
In a secret ballot, 139 voted in favor, 82 voted against.
Despite the rejection, a special election asking voters to exempt the $3.1 million from Proposition 2 ½ property tax cap will go on as scheduled, Moderator Harold Gould said following the meeting.
If the tax exemption is approved, the Board of Selectmen could bring the proposal to voters again at another special town meeting, he said.
Selectman Chairperson Daniel Nolen said he doesn’t think his board or other town boards have the appetite, at this point, to consider another DPW. “Maybe a fire department, maybe the roads; I don’t know,” he said.
Voters were asked to purchase the former Old Colony Stationary at 371 Douglas Road for $995,000. In addition, they were asked to approve $2 million to renovate the building for DPW use and make site improvements to the current DPW facility on Fletcher Street where winter operations would continue.
Town Manager Theodore Kozak urged passage, noting it had the full support of selectmen, finance committee and building, planning and construction committee members.
“If not acted on tonight, the opportunity to bring a new DPW facility will be lost for some time,’’ he said Tuesday.
DPW Director James Shuris made a presentation emphasizing the benefits, specifically providing shelter for town equipment currently left outside and improving working conditions for DPW workers.
William Cundiff of Windsor Ridge Drive made a presentation against the project, listing nine reasons for rejection, among them a property tax increase and the loss of a business from the tax rolls. In addition, he said he didn’t believe the $3.1 million requested would be sufficient to complete the needed renovations.
Selectmen Thomas Melia and Charles Ampagoomian spoke in favor of the project. Building, Planning and Construction Committee member Tim Doiron pointed out that voters give committee members “grief’’ about the amount of money spent on studies.
“If you don’t think this is the proposal you want to back, remember that next time the committee comes before voters to get a study done. None of them are free,” he said.