Norwell voters head to town meeting Monday, May 4th, 2015 to decide on a $48,583,619 fiscal 2016 budget as well as some other important issues, such as what to do with the old Norwell police station. The largest line item in the budget is undoubtedly the Norwell schools coming in at $24,587,972, a 3.38% increase from fiscal 2015. The Norwell School Committee states the schools are staffed to maintain level services, academic programming and to meet the new controversial curriculum mandates such as Common Core and PARCC.
Articles 25, 26, and 27 deal with the old Norwell police station on River Street. Now that the police department has moved to it’s new $5.5MM facility on Washington Street, voters get to decide what they would prefer to see at the old River Street site. Article 25 gives the property to the Community Housing Trust for the purposes of developing 14 apartment units, all of which would be counted in the subsidized housing inventory tracked by the Commonwealth of Mass. The development would pay approximately $50,000 per year in estimated real estate taxes. Article 26 gives the property to the American Legion post in Norwell for $1.00, in which the Legion proposes to spend up to $950,000 to renovate and build a 200 seat function hall and private members lounge. The Legion proposal is also being coined as a “community center” by its officials as they have stated it will be open for use to Norwell clubs and residents, however specifics have not been provided. Article 27 gives the Selectmen the authorization to sell the property at River Street for such terms and conditions that the Board determines to be in the best interest of the town. I’m assuming that if all three articles fail to pass by two thirds vote at town meeting, the property stays put and comes back to town meeting next year.
I hope many residents come to town meeting on Monday, May 4, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. and vote on these important issues. For those who haven’t come to town meeting before, this is the democratic process at its best. You can voice your opinion, ask questions, vote and make a difference. I hope to see you there.