Newfane voters send town office project back to drawing table


NEWFANE >> Voters approved the use of leftover money from a previous bridge bond but denied the Select Board authority to take out a new bond to construct a new town office.

"It's something that the Select Board's going to have to start thinking about the next time we meet, to see what direction we go in," said Select Board Chairman Todd Lawley. "There was a proposal to add onto and renovate the one that's there. We're probably going to have go that route and find out if we can get some firm figures and see what that's going to cost us."

The board also will have to check the town's financial status with banks, said Lawley. He worries about how a bond for a bridge repair in South Newfane and one approved to install a solar array at NewBrook Elementary School could affect future loans. The solar project is still up in the air. But Lawley said he wants to make sure the town will still have the ability to obtain funding if another bridge needs to be addressed.

For now, there's no plan of attack.

"We'll have to come up with a project," Lawley said. "I don't know when they're going to present that to the voters but once we come up with a firm plan and figure then we can go from there."

On Tuesday, an article asking voters to approve a $950,000 bond to build a new town office failed 286 to 226. But an article asking voters to apply $35,000 of unexpended proceeds from the town's Nov. 1, 2012 bond for the South Newfane bridge towards construction of a new municipal building passed 255 to 249.

Residents had voiced concern about the language of the article as it contained no location or what kind of facility would go up with their approval.

At an informational meeting, Select Board Vice Chairwoman Carol Hatcher said the board went with a bond attorney's counsel and felt that it was good legal advice.

"We have to come back to you and ask you, 'What do you want? A or B?'" Hatcher said. "We're not spending the money without your approval."

While researching what it would take to bring Town Offices up to snuff — a project that would involve adding more space for record storage, addressing handicap accessibility, and making improvements to the roof and electric — another idea presented itself. The town could sell the building to neighboring business WW Building Supply and purchase land up for sale between the two properties. All parties showed interest in a potential transaction.

Residents also worried about costs of constructing a new office. And Town Offices as it stands today has historical significance as a former schoolhouse.

"Literally all of the people in town whom I've spoken to agree that a new building is not needed," resident Gary Katz wrote in a letter to the editor. "Many highlight an emotional attachment to the existing building having attended school there in its earlier incarnation. Others focus on the history of the current building and its importance in a town where the entire village is on the National Historic Register."

Contact Chris Mays at or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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