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Northfield board prioritizes projects

Recorder/Peter MacDonald
Northfield town hall building has had renovations

Recorder/Peter MacDonald Northfield town hall building has had renovations

NORTHFIELD — The selectboard has prioritized $415,000 in capital projects for the May annual town meeting, though members’ individual priorities vary.

The top priority project would install a lining in the Town Hall sewer system to prevent ongoing backups, and install a canopy over the rear of Town Hall to provide shelter over the back doors. The projects are estimated at $35,000, and are being proposed together because the sewer work must be completed before the canopy, since the pavement underneath must be dug up to access the sewer lines.

They were first on Selectboard Chairwoman Kathy Wright’s and member Dan Gray’s lists, and fifth on member Jack Spanbauer’s. The next item was Spanbauer’s top priority.

Two fireproof safes for the town clerk came in second, at $4,000.

A $200,000 installment toward a new fire truck was third. This would be the third and final installment, bringing the total to $450,000.

The fire truck was second on Gray and Spanbauer’s lists, and fifth on Wright’s.

Five-year plans

A five-year plan asking to put an annual $30,000 toward code-required upgrades to Town Hall’s 1927 electrical system came in fourth. It was Wright’s second priority, Gray’s fifth, and Spanbauer’s sixth.

The entire project could cost as much as $300,000, but the board agreed that even half that amount was too much to ask in one year. Instead, they’ll suggest the town put money aside each year, and chip away at repairs. Members felt that the town would have a better handle on the full scope of the project after five years of doing so.

The board’s fifth priority project asks for a similar five-year plan. An annual $25,000 would be set aside and used to turn a now-vacant portion of Town Hall’s second floor into meeting and office rooms for the Selectboard. The high-end estimate for the project is $127,000, but could vary greatly depending on what type of heating and cooling systems are used.

A new SUV for the Police Department came in sixth, at $36,000, and a new Ford F450 for the Highway Department came in last, at $85,000.

The last article would replace an aging F350 used by the department’s newest hire. At the last annual town meeting, $35,000 was put toward a new backhoe, which the department decided could wait a year, as the need for a truck was more dire.

Board members agreed that it was tough to prioritize the year’s capital projects, since they’re all needed.

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