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Conway to vote Monday on $3.5 million highway garage

The new garage, if approved, would be located behind the salt shed on town property adjacent to the Conway Grammar School. The project would go out to bid for September with an anticipated October construction start date.
(Recorder file/Paul Franz)

The new garage, if approved, would be located behind the salt shed on town property adjacent to the Conway Grammar School. The project would go out to bid for September with an anticipated October construction start date. (Recorder file/Paul Franz) Purchase photo reprints »

CONWAY — On Monday , residents will be asked to support a new $3.5 million highway garage.

A special town meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Conway Grammar School.

The current building, which shares a space with the fire and ambulance departments on Route 116, has inadequate storage space and heating, fails to provide protection for vehicles and equipment and does not meet disabilities requirements, according to town officials. The building is deteriorating and forces maintenance crews to work on vehicles outside, according to designers from Reinhardt Associates of Agawam.

The new facility would provide adequate indoor maintenance space to conduct repairs and a safer work environment and safe storage in an unheated pole barn for the 12 vehicles.

The heated building, at 4,775 square feet, would house the maintenance bay and office.

The change would provide additional space for the fire and ambulance departments, which would stay at the current location and expand into the current highway bays.

Townspeople will have two opportunities to weigh in on the project this summer.

At the special town meeting, voters will be asked to transfer $646,590 from Garage Stabilization and authorize borrowing $1,975,000 to pay for the construction costs.

It is contingent upon passage of a debt exclusion question on a special election on July 10, which requires a two-thirds vote.

The new garage, if approved, would be located behind the salt shed on town property adjacent to the Conway Grammar School. The project would go out to bid for September with an anticipated October construction start date.

While many residents at a Saturday hearing supported the project, they questioned the cost and rising taxes.

“I’m thinking of the cost to the town in the big picture of this project and other projects. Could we wait on the pole barn?” asked Mary McClintock.

Project designers said the $420,000 pole barn provides storage and protection for vehicles and it would be more cost effective now than later.

With so many municipal needs coming up, some residents suggested forming a capital planning committee to deal with the proposed town hall project, waste water treatment plant and housing needs. Police Chief Ken Ouimette, who is the chairman of the garage committee, said the town had formed such a committee but its members stopped meeting.

While the project is expensive, town leaders and project designers argue there would be a savings from keeping the equipment inside away from the weather and making it last longer.

The project has been waiting in the wings since the town surveyed building needs in 2005. At the time, townspeople and department heads agreed a highway garage was the most pressing issue, but after the grammar school needed a new roof, the Garage Committee held off on the project until this year.

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

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