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Wendell annual town meeting set for Saturday

Fracking, Town Hall kitchen issues top agenda

WENDELL — The annual town meeting this year will address questions of natural gas mining and transportation, the occasionally controversial Town Hall kitchen and several major equipment purchases.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday in the old Town Hall.

One article would ban oil and gas mining by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in town. Fracking is a controversial method of fossil fuel extraction that critics say pollutes and contributes to climate change. The ban covers fracking and “prospecting with the intent to frack.”

A second article calls on the Selectboard not to allow the proposed Kinder Morgan gas pipeline to pass through Wendell and instructs state and federal legislators and other officials to “disallow such projects that go against our commitments to life, the environment, our economic well-being and our bodily safety.”

As currently proposed, the pipeline from Wright, N.Y., to Dracut would not pass through Wendell, but would cut through several other nearby county towns.

The Town Hall kitchen is undergoing remodeling, a topic of extended debate at last year’s annual town meeting. That meeting approved $19,600 to bring the kitchen up to code and allow it to be used for town functions. The potential impact of the changes on residents with multiple chemical sensitivity, a controversial medical condition, was the focus of debate.

Remodeling committee members said they would hold open community discussions before coming back to town meeting to ask for stove money, a possible gas stove being a particular bone of contention.

This year’s warrant requests $8,000 for kitchen equipment and $2,900 for a gas hookup, fire suppression system and related costs.

Special requests from the Fire Department total $142,186, including $75,00 for a new or used brush truck and $50,000 as a grant match to be used if the town is successful in obtaining a grant for a new tanker. In another major equipment item, $120,000 would pay for a Highway Department road grader. All three would be funded from the town savings or stabilization fund, with a $34,891 transfer into that account from the road machinery fund.

Also on the warrant:

∎ A general budget of $2,058,976, up 1.2 percent.

∎ $15,000 to pay for replacement of the senior center roof.

∎ $89,545 for debt service on four loans.

∎ $35,000 for the capital stabilization fund.

∎ $59,080 for group health insurance.

∎ $7,500 to hire former Fire Chief Everett Ricketts to act as a consultant to the new chief and aid in the transition.

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