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Lanesborough special town meeting voters approve change to annual town meeting date

Saturday's meeting also sees 15 articles passed, including two projects for Summer Street

Lanesborough town hall (copy) (copy)

Lanesborough Police Station Study Committee has begun reviewing plans for a proposed new police station

LANESBOROUGH — The annual town meeting has been moved to a different day and month in an effort to increase townspeople participation.

Saturday’s special town meeting of nearly 40 people saw a majority approve the third Saturday in May replacing the second Tuesday night in June as the new date for the annual gathering. Voters deleted from the article on the warrant a start time of noon, leaving the time to the discretion of the Select Board.

Proponents say the Tuesday night meeting, which typically started at 6 p.m., would last up to four hours, even longer some years, making it difficult for senior citizens and parents with young children to stay out late.

“Having it on a weekend affords the most people being here,” said Michelle Johnson, referring to the Lanesborough Elementary School, the site of the meeting.

Selectman Michael Murphy believes the date change will make the meeting more inclusive to deciding town spending and special articles for the new fiscal year.

“We will be doing our seniors and young families a great service giving them a chance to attend,” Murphy said.

A motion to postpone the article to the annual town meeting when more people typically show up was defeated, 23-15.

In all, voters needed 85 minutes to approve all 15 articles on the warrant, including two public works projects totaling $480,000 for improvements to Summer Street. In both cases, surplus town funds, or free cash, is being used.

The bulk of the money, $355,000, is to replace the sidewalk and curb on the street between Route 7 and the elementary school. Town officials said the sidewalk is crumbling and is a safety hazard.

“I find it safer to jog and walk in the road than on the sidewalk,” said Summer Street resident Ian Warren.

The other Summer Street upgrade is spending $125,000 to pave a section of Summer from Old Cheshire Road to Old State Road and a section of Old State Road heading north to where a new water main was installed.

A third capital expenditure is using $100,000 in free cash to make immediate upgrades to the town hall, such as replace carpets, install energy efficient windows, power wash and paint the interior and exterior and, if money allows, investigate the air quality of the building.

Town Administrator Josh Lang says the work is just the beginning of improvements.

“We’re going to be looking at long range planning for the town hall,” said Lang.

Four of the articles dealt with public safety issues:

• $101,000 to pay down the loan for buying a new ambulance.

• $14,545.07 toward the lease or purchase of a new, fully equipped cruiser for the Police Department, costing a total $38,865.57.

• $2,895 for a 10-year warranty for two generators for the Fire Department.

• Petition the Legislature to have seven Lanesborough firefighters remain active beyond the mandatory retirement age of 65. If approved, the measure would allow the firefighters to retire at 70, provided that they remain physically fit for duty.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com.

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