Conway rejects Highway Department garage by two votes

CONWAY — The Highway Department will continue working out of the old garage building after townspeople rejected a $3.6 million proposal to build a new facility by falling two votes short of the required two-thirds vote.

Seventy-six residents voted “yes” to the project and 43 voted “no.”

The vote effectively puts to bed a project that has been in the works since 2004, when a committee was originally formed to study and design a new facility.

Garage Committee Chairman and Police Chief Ken Ouimette was disheartened by the vote.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “Ten years is enough for me.”

Voters nixed borrowing $1,975,000 to pay for the construction costs of the garage. Because they turned down the first article, they did not have to vote on a transfer of $646,590 from Garage Stabilization.

With the “no” votes, townspeople won’t have to head to the polls on July 10, in which a special election was planned for a debt exclusion question.

The cost of the project was the main reservation townspeople had with the project.

“I’d love to have a garage,” resident Tony Borton said. “But it’s $3.6 million. I think the town can’t afford to make that kind of commitment. It’s too expensive.”

For much of this year, the Garage Committee and Board of Selectmen were developing a proposal to put a new facility behind the salt shed by the Conway Grammar School. The town had been working with designers from Reinhardt Associates of Agawam.

The new facility, according to town officials, was intended to eliminate existing issues with the current building, including inadequate storage space and heating, failure to provide protection for vehicles and equipment and failure to meet disabilities requirements. Project proponents also argued that the building is deteriorating and forces maintenance crews to work on vehicles outside.

Other matters

∎ Townspeople did support a $200,000 appropriation for the town ballfield drainage and improvement project.

The Parks, Recreation and Trails Committee planned to complete a long-sought drainage improvement this year in time for the town’s 250th anniversary celebration in 2017.

The project is designed to provide a new lower parking area, hardened walkways to increase accessibility, a new stairway by Whately Road and relocation of the basketball and tennis courts. There will be two half basketball courts and one full tennis court.

∎ Frontier Regional School can expect to get improved tennis courts.

The town supported $4,455 from Community Preservation Act money to pay its share of repairing the tennis courts at Frontier Regional School. Its vote follows positive votes in its partner towns — Deerfield, Whately and Sunderland, which are all contributing Community Preservation Act money to the $32,999 project.

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

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