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Conway Selectboard chairman disappointed after garage vote

Conway’s current highway garage, above, on Route 116. Selectboard Chairman John O’Rourke has expressed disappointment after the town voted against a proposed $2.7 million new highway garage.
(Recorder/Micky Bedell)

Conway’s current highway garage, above, on Route 116. Selectboard Chairman John O’Rourke has expressed disappointment after the town voted against a proposed $2.7 million new highway garage. (Recorder/Micky Bedell) Purchase photo reprints »

CONWAY — A day after the town voted down a proposed new highway garage, Selectboard Chairman John O’Rourke said the results were disappointing.

“Conway needs a new highway garage and has for decades,” O’Rourke said.

For 10 years, the Garage Committee has been working to get the town a new building. Those plans came to a standstill Monday night when townspeople rejected a $2.7 million proposal to build a new facility by falling two votes short of the required two-thirds.

The proposed garage would have been located on Fournier Road behind the salt shed on town property.

“At present, no decision has been made to re-introduce the highway garage project to the voters,” O’Rourke said. “The longer the town waits to build a sorely needed highway garage, the more it will cost.”

The Garage Committee is made up of highly professional and knowledgeable town residents who are very experienced in the construction industry, O’Rourke said.

“The major focus of the Garage Committee was to obtain the most out of every tax dollar spent. I observed this at every meeting. The estimated cost of the original project design was almost $4 million. Every conceivable place where dollars could be saved to lower the overall cost of the project was thoroughly investigated by this committee,” O’Rourke said.

The committee had gone through at least six major design changes and many minor changes to lower the project cost, O’Rourke said.

“This committee worked very hard and did an outstanding job in developing a plan that provided the much needed functionality of a highway garage for the lowest possible cost,” he continued.

After all the work, O’Rourke said, the town held two public meetings for residents to view the proposed plans and ask questions.

Out of 1,400 plus voters in town, fewer than 30 residents attended the hearings.

“The town meeting process has been called the purest form of democracy,” O’Rourke said. “One of the burdens of a democracy is that the voters must be fully and accurately informed. When this premise fails the resulting vote may not be in the best interests of the community.

“It is a shame that people who were not involved in the process, and who may be misinformed, uninformed or shoot from the hip, can influence the vote on a project carefully developed by a committee of consummate professionals who have the best interest of the town at heart,” O’Rourke stated.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268 On Twitter, follow @RecorderKatMcK

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