Petition for town-wide vote on Brattleboro police station move needs more signatures

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BRATTLEBORO — Town Meeting member Dora Bouboulis, of District 3, says a town-wide vote should happen to decide whether to move the police station from the Municipal Center to Black Mountain Road.

That's why she started a petition following the 111-27 vote at a special Representative Town Meeting on March 12.

"I still need to get more," Bouboulis told the Reformer after annual Representative Town Meeting on Saturday. "I'm not saying how many I have."

Altogether, Bouboulis will need 400 signatures from residents or 50 Town Meeting Representatives. The document will need to be submitted by Tuesday, she said, not expecting to find too much support among the latter group.

"Ten days is not enough time," she said of the deadline. "The issue is not how much support. It's about being able to find people to sign the petition."

She has spent time downtown standing in front of the Post Office, saying there's a finite number of people traveling that section of Main Street and not many other places she can go with the petition.

The depth of the project is part of Bouboulis' reasoning for the petition. The move to Black Mountain Road, the Reformer building, is part of a $12.8 million project to upgrade police and fire facilities. The newspaper would continue operations there as a tenant under the deal.

"This came up fairly quick," Bouboulis said. "A lot of people haven't had a chance to weigh in and they don't always know how to weigh in. And even when they do, they don't feel they're being listened to."

Plans for both departments' facilities were approved but then the budget was rejected in a town-wide referendum in April 2014.

If the petition goes forward and there is another referendum overturning the decision to relocate the police, Town Manager Peter Elwell said the town would not have the authority to issue the debt to go ahead with the move. Still possible would be fixes at the Municipal Center, where the department is currently housed.

"There would have to be further consideration by the Select Board and ultimately by Town Meeting (Representatives) on how to proceed. One option the Select Board would have for proceeding with the overall project for the combined three elements... would be to travel under the existing authorization of your 2012 action that allowed the police station to be upgraded, renovated and have an addition put on at the Municipal Center. That authority still stands," Elwell said. "The funding that has been identified as the first-year debt service for the Black Mountain Road alternative that's been put in this proposed budget before you today is less than what would have been required had you decided instead to stay with the plan."

Town Meeting member Hyam Siegel, of District 3, had questioned how the petition could play out and replied, "I'm looking forward to another meeting."

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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