TOWNSEND -- Proponents of a new central fire station on Tuesday vowed to return to Town Meeting with a new proposal after voters failed to muster the two-thirds vote necessary to appropriate funds for the project.
"We'll get it done," assured Building Committee Chairman William Elliott after a disappointing vote.
Residents were asked to consider a warrant containing 28 articles covering everything from the town's budget for fiscal 2015 to making up a deficit in the town's snow and ice account.
Most went smoothly until the fire-station issue came up. Debate followed a presentation by former Fire Chief Donald Klein, who explained the years-long process of improving the Fire Department and the need to replace the town's aging stations.
Older stations included those at 460 Main St., 8 and 13 Elm streets, and 272R Main St., which the chief said would be replaced by a single facility on Scales Lane.
Designs presented included a four-bay building with two separate floors needed mainly because the town's older stations could not accommodate modern fire trucks, which are larger than older models.
Klein said after looking all over town for a suitable site, he was only able to find a six-acre lot belonging to the Townsend Ridge Country Club.
The estimated price of the new headquarters would be $11,313,000, which Klein said would come to an average of $242 annually added to homeowners' taxes over 20 years.
Residents also had other issues dealing with the proposed fire station, including the cost of buying the land, access to Route 119, and traffic along Scales Lane generated by abutters Sterilite and Triple M Movers.
"Scales Lane is just the wrong spot," said resident William Biswanger, going on to list congestion problems on the street if fire trucks had to find their way to Route 119 while trucks from Sterilite and the moving company were also using the road.
Noting that the turning radius onto the highway would be difficult without taking land from properties at the corners of Scales Lane, where it empties onto Route 119, Biswanger said the site was too distant from certain parts of town for adequate coverage.
"You're leaving West Townsend uncovered," said Biswanger. "We're gonna buy something tonight that we don't know how much it will cost."
Joining Biswanger in objecting, Joyce Mariner figured that if the new fire station and school expenses alone were both approved, the total amount of new taxes for homeowners would come to $400 a year.
"We should not do it at this time," advised Mariner, arguing that more information was needed.
Not helping fire-station supporters was news that the Finance Committee decided not to recommend the article due to its cost to taxpayers.
Elliott said his committee would consider other plans, including building two smaller stations instead of one, but this time, without the assistance of Klein, who has retired from the Fire Department.
"It's not easy," said Elliott of the process. "But if anyone has any ideas, they can bring them up with the Building Committee."
Residents also voted to:
* Approve a municipal budget for fiscal 2015 of $17,870,361, of which $9,817,244 will be earmarked for the schools.
* Appropriate $207,089 to offset overspending of the snow-and-ice account in 2014.
* Appropriate $6,000 for a new copier for the administrative offices.
* Appropriate $8,100 to replace firearms in use by the Police Department.
* Appropriate $5,000 for the Conservation Commission to supplement the group's land fund.
* Appropriate $204,196 as the town's portion of the cost of replacing the roofs on the Spaulding Memorial and Hawthorne Brook middle schools.
* Appropriate $73,208 for the debt on a new ladder truck for the Fire Department.
* Appropriate $206,000 to cover the town's portion of the cost of a new roof for the Nashoba Valley Technical High School. The roof will cost an estimated $2.8 million of which 52 percent is to be covered by the state. The remainder will be paid for by the school's member towns with the size of payments based on the number of students each town sends to the school. Townsend's appropriation will come to $21,799 annually to be paid over a 10-year period.
* Appropriate a total of $840,420 to cover a number of items listed in a capital-expenditure budget, including HVAC upgrades to Town Hall, a pair of trucks and a street sweeper for the Highway Department, and computer upgrades and new cruisers for the Police Department.
* Transfer a pair of properties including the Clement property off South Row and Emery Roads and a second property at Haynes Road will both be transferred to the state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for use as open space.