Vote Against Downtown Parking Ends First Night of TM
At last night's town meeting voters told government leaders how the feel about issues including the budget, downtown parking and town savings accounts.
Voters at gathered at Hopkinton Middle School last night for the town's 2012 Annual Town Meeting.
With a long list of warrant articles to get through , 58 in total, residents made it almost halfway by getting through 24 of the articles when the magic hour of 11 p.m. came and the meeting was adjourned for the night.
In perhaps to of the most impactful votes of the night, the town approved a budget of $34 million for the schools and a budget of $30 million for the rest of the town.
There were nearly 200 voting members present at the meeting, less than five percent of the town's voting residents, and the voters are on pace to raise the total taxes paid by homeowners more than 2 percent.
Of the 24 articles voted on, 21 received un-amended yes votes. Two were approved with amendments by Hopkinton residents and one article, the final of the night, was voted down.
Articles 11 and 12 were both called for the town to raise and appropriate funds for, as well as transfer funds from free cash, in to stabilization funds.
Article 11 originally called for raising $20,000 through taxes and transferring $30,000 from free cash in to the capital stabilization fund which will be used to pay for capital projects such as new buildings and keep the tax increases steady.
After receiving word from the state that the town would have a higher amount of free cash than expected, the appropriations committee decided to raise the amount transferred from free cash to $130,000.
With hearing this Hopkinton resident Dr. John Duffy, former member of the Board of Selectmen, suggested an amendment that took the tax raise out of the article.
The next article up was 12, in a similar fashion the town was prepared to raise $100,000 and transfer $300,000 (after the knowledge of more free cash) that would be put in the generalization fund. Once Again Duffy suggested an amendment that took out the tax increase.
Both amendments by Duffy were approved by the town meeting and both articles were passed as amended.
The one article to receive a no vote was article number 23, which would have allowed the town to borrow $50,000 to design and engineer improvements to the shared parking lot behind Bill's Pizza .
Many proponents of the bill suggested that the need for more parking wasn't just needed because the Downtown Initiative Steering Committee has suggested removal of some on-street parking, but because there is a genuine need for parking in the area.
Jack Speranza from the Hopkinton Chamber of Commerce, and Ken Weismantel from the Planning Board both said that the lack of parking was detrimental to getting new businesses in to the downtown area.
Opponents, on the other hand, worried that the expense of preparing a lot was too high when there wasn't even a lease established. Other opponents of the plan lived on neighboring streets and did not want to deal with the increased light pollution as well as the reduction of the trees around the parking lot that act as a natural barrier.
The vote ultimately failed 74 in favor to 80 against as the clock struck 11 p.m. and the meeting was adjourned for the night.
Tonight the voters will take on issues including improvements to the Sandy Beach facility, replacing the old electrical system in the library, a new traffic signal at the intersection of West Main Street and School street, a law that would limit the number of unregistered vehicles on a property and the second to last article which would allow a developer to apply for a site-specific liquor license for Hopkinton Square.
Once again Hopkinton Patch Editor Sean O'Donnell will be broadcasting live from the meeting, updating readers on discussions and votes.