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Library, gas station on Erving agenda

ERVING — Library staff and patrons want a new library, a local businessman wants to build a gas station, and the usual monetary items need approval at the annual town meeting set for Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Library Director Barbara Friedman has led a push for a new or expanded library building to replace the old, confining building in Ervingside.

The library is pursuing a Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners planning and construction grant, a process that could take as little as five years or long as a decade.

The grants come in two stages, planning and construction, and the current request is for a $25,000 town match for a feasibility study grant.

The grant would provide $50,000 to study the feasibility of three options: expanding the existing library building on Moore Street, renovating an existing structure elsewhere in town, or building new.

In addition to books and films, the library serves as an Internet hub and hosts numerous community programs.

Nearby, on Route 2, bowling alley owner Ralph Semb and son Erik Semb have wanted to build a gas station for years.

Semb has submitted an article via citizen petition which would ask residents to vote to “allow for the development and construction of a gas station in the town of Erving.”

There are no gas stations in town. Gas stations are not prohibited generally, but are on the spot the Sembs wish to build one: the recently vacant lot beside Ralph Semb’s French King Bowling Alley. The plan was for a gas station, convenience store, Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway on the lot.

The lot is in a water protection overlay district, in which fuel storage tanks are banned by town zoning intended to protect the town’s drinking water supply. An effort to change that rule failed in 2009. Residents supported the measure at town meeting, but not by the two-thirds majority required to change the zoning.

The Dunkin’ Donuts and convenience store have since become a reality after a town meeting vote approved a zoning change to allow drive-throughs, followed by a lengthy permitting process in 2011 and 2012.

The current request does not specify a location. Ralph Semb said he still wants to build in the same spot, has had a number of people ask about the gas station, and believes some of the water situation may have changed since he stopped using well water.

“This is just kind of to get the process started,” he said.

In the major annual spending items, most budgets increased within the usual parameters with a spike in the Tech school assessment. The Franklin County Technical School assessment is up $75,531 or 24.7 percent, to $380,833. Town Administrator Thomas Sharp said the increase was occasioned by a four student, or 20 percent, increase in Erving students attending the school.

The town’s general budget is up $89,088 or 3 percent from the budget approved at last year’s annual meeting, to $3,102,353.

The budgeted figure for secondary education tuitions came to $990,476, up $27,541 or 2.7 percent. Erving has a tuition agreement with the Gill-Montague Regional School district for middle and high school students.

The Erving Elementary School budget is up 3.7 percent, to $2,598,566.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Erving Elementary School, 28 Northfield Road.

Also among the 38 items on the agenda:

∎ $100,086 for the salaries and stipends of paid elected town officials, up 2 percent.

∎  $22,000 to lease iPads for the Erving Elementary School.

∎ $672,944 to fund sewer operations, $182,944 from Montague and other receipts.

∎ $88,058 for water operations, raised from water department revenues.

∎ $25,000 to maintain and improve town buildings.

∎ $100,000 for a continuing appropriation for highway work.

∎ $25,300 for a Highway Department leaf collector.

∎ Three articles totaling $23,000 for Police Department computers and guns.

∎ $30,000 for an emergency generator to power Fire Hall 2, in Ervingside.

∎ Two articles totalling $15,000 for portable pumps and hose for the Fire Department.

∎ $300,000 for the retirement trust fund.

∎ $835,759 for the town stabilization or savings fund.

∎ New Water Department rules and regulations.

∎ Bylaws for the governance of the Council on Aging, which did not previously exist.

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