The Special Town Meeting Tuesday night approved all 24 articles on the warrant. The majority of the articles dealt with requests for additional funds from various Town agencies, as well as a request for funding to move the Lemansky skate park.
The additional funding requests amounted to about $1,026,000. Town of Auburn CFO, Ed Kazanovicz explained in a presentation that the amounts would come from higher-than-expected revenue, free cash, and additional tax levy.
Article 9 called for $100,000 to begin the process of converting Auburn’s street lights to LEDs. According to speaker Patrick Roche of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, replacing the town’s 1,123 streetlights would save about $74,000 a year in electricity costs to the town.
The total cost of conversion is estimated to be about $400,000, but $133,000 in grants and utility (National Grid) incentives would offset that cost. The estimated net cost to Auburn would be about $267,000. Factoring in the $74,000 a year in electricity savings, the project has a payback period of 3.6 years, and would save the town approximately $1 million over the 20 year useful life of the LED fixtures. The article passed easily.
Article 11 sought a transfer of $30,000 from a special Yong Shing account that was established around 2011 when Yong Shing Restaurant had a rental agreement with the Town of Auburn. The $30,000 would be used to move the current Lemansky skatepark to a different location within the same facility. The cost includes moving and reinstalling fencing and paving the new 7,500 sq. ft. proposed area. The current site of the skate park would then be developed into a dog park.
After some discussion, this article also passed easily.
Speaking on Article 14 were Fire Chief Stephen Coleman and Police Chief Andrew Sluckis, Jr. The Article sought $150,000 to hire an outside consultant to evaluate the future needs of the public safety departments.
“We don’t know if that is renovation, expansion, or a new public safety complex” said Coleman. “The study will help us make some of those decisions, but they are years away right now.”
Coleman went on to explain how the current West St. fire station is the old West St. School, with three garage doors built into the former cafeteria. “It was never intended for use as a fire station” Coleman added.
According to Chief Sluckis, the Auburn Police Headquarters, while built in 2000, was too small when they moved in 17 years ago.
“It was too small when we moved in, and it is too small now” said Sluckis. “The building doesn’t currently meet the needs of a growing department and changing technology.”
Chair of the Master Planning Committee and Town Meeting Member, Greg Bohling, spoke in support of the Article after the Committee visited the facilities several months ago. There were no other questions or comments, and the article passed.
Article 23 was a revision of an article presented at Annual Town Meeting last May. The Town is seeking an amendment to the Auburn Zoning Bylaws relevant to the Regional Mall Overlay District that would allow the construction of electronic billboards on mall property overlooking the Mass. Turnpike. The revised proposal reduced the height of the signs from 100 feet to 80 feet, and limited the types of advertisements that could be shown on the screens. Specifically, tobacco products, adult entertainment and marijuana – related advertising is prohibited.
The article did generate a proposed amendment to the wording of the article. Town Meeting Member Bruce Hoppe questioned whether alcohol advertising should also be restricted, and submitted a written motion to amend that included such wording. However, the assembly narrowly defeated the motion.
After several presentations where Town Manager Julie Jacobson addressed concerns raised during the May Town Meeting and outlined the changes made to the article, Article 23 was moved to a vote and the Article carried the required 2/3 majority.
The final piece of business was Article 24 asking Town Meeting to accept a donation of three parcels of land from Robert Post to the Town of Auburn. The three parcels total about 3.7 acres along Southold Rd. The Article was passed unanimously with no discussion.