25-article Special Town Meeting planned for Monday in Orange

  • Eight articles involving the replacement of the East Road bridge in Orange will be on Monday’s Special Town Meeting warrant. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/11/2020 3:29:53 PM
Modified: 9/11/2020 3:29:37 PM

ORANGE — A Special Town Meeting pertaining to everything from education spending to land ownership to Fire Department equipment is slated for Monday.

Residents will meet on the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School football field at 6 p.m. to take action on the 25 warrant articles. Attendees will be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Jane Peirce, vice chair of the Selectboard, also said people are encouraged to bring bug spray and wear warm clothing.

Voters will be asked to increase by $294,717 the omnibus budget they approved for fiscal year 2021 at Annual Town Meeting on June 15, bringing it to $21.5 million. The vote in June was contingent on an override, which was rejected later that month. This resulted in Orange needing to raise more money to pay for its Mahar assessment.

There are also three articles regarding a small land parcel that five different parties are interested in splitting. Peirce explained there is “one little sliver of land,” probably less than a half-acre, that the Water Department didn’t realize it owned on Holtshire Road when it was selling parcels eight to 10 years ago. Peirce said the five parties have agreed on a plot plan for the terrain, which she said includes one camp and some boat docks on Lake Mattawa.

Peirce said adoption of the first related article would allow the town to accept from the water commissioners the responsibility for the land. The town needs a separate article adopted in order to sell the land and disseminate the profits to the Water Department and the town; and another one to be able to sell directly to a buyer at fair market value and sidestep a state statute that requires the land to be sold to the highest bidder.

There are also eight articles that, if adopted, would give the town the ability “to acquire by gift, purchase, eminent domain or otherwise” land parcels needed to complete the replacement of the East Road bridge over West Brook, connecting North Orange to Route 2A and the rest of Orange. Peirce explained the respective landowners are in agreement with the town, and the warrant articles are merely a legal requirement.

The bridge replacement was expected to be done in the fall or winter of 2018. The Police Department first announced the closing of the bridge on Nov. 20, 2015. Peirce explained this project has seen its share of hiccups, including unstable soil that had to be rectified.

A separate article asks voters if they will agree to amend a portion of a 2019 Annual Town Meeting article that authorized capital plan borrowing for a brush truck for the Fire Department, to instead purchase a utility terrain vehicle “with brush firefighting and patient transport capabilities and an enclosed trailer for storage and transport not to exceed $67,857.”

To view the full, 25-article warrant, visit bit.ly/35lLOe4.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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