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Scope of Town Hall project could hinge on election results


HARVARD — Whether the Town Hall makeover that’s been in the works for so long will mirror the current design voters have approved several times, with cost projections that now exceed by $1.1 million the previously appropriated amount of $3.9 million, or whether a different, downsized project will be proposed, could hinge on the outcome of the Nov. 5 Special Town Election.

Or maybe not.

The single ballot question calling for a debt exclusion is a stand-alone now. But it started out as a contingency attached to an article on the Oct. 16 Special Town Meeting warrant, seeking approval to spend more money on the Town Hall project. The motion on that article failed, short of the two-thirds majority required to pass.

The following question will be presented to voters at the Nov. 5 election, the only item on the ballot.

QUESTION 1 — Town Hall Building Project Debt Exclusion.

Shall the Town of Harvard be allowed to exempt from the provisions of proposition two and one-half, so-called, the amounts required to pay for the bond issued in order to fund the design, construction, reconstruction, renovation and historical preservation of the Harvard Town Hall, including, but not limited to handicapped accessibility improvements and the installation of a new heating, ventilating and air conditioning system?

If voters say no, selectmen might seek another funding source to close the gap without borrowing or decide to move forward with the money they already have, if at all.

If voters say yes, selectmen could call another Special Town Meeting to ask again if voters will approve the added $1.1 million for the renovation and reconstruction of Town Hall.

Or, they could decide to do something else.

Where to go from here

At a meeting last week, selectmen reviewed next step options for the Town Hall renovation and reconstruction project they asked Town Administrator Tim Bragan to prepare after Article 1 failed.

The article asked if the town would okay an additional amount of money to complete the project as currently proposed and previously approved with an estimated price tag of $3.9 million. The added amount, separately identified as $1.1 million, was tied to successful passage of a debt exclusion question at the Nov. 5 Special town election.

Although more voters said yes than no, the motion on Article 1 didn’t muster the two-thirds majority required to pass. Despite the STM outcome, the election is still scheduled.

Meantime, the selectmen were faced with a dilemma they continued to mull last week.

The takeaway from their recent meeting, in light of the failed STM article and after hearing from the public on both sides, was that the selectmen would study the detailed list of go-to options Bragan gave them, pros, cons, compromises, combinations and all.

So far, it’s been a three-to-two lineup, with Chairwoman Marie Sobalvarro, Stu Sklar and Lucy Wallace backing the project plan as is — even with a substantially upped price tag — and Leo Blair and Ron Ricci holding out for a more cost-conscious approach — going ahead with the project but with spending more aligned with the appropriated amount.

Selectmen tentatively agreed to meet this week, hoping by then to have chosen the best pick from Bragan’s list.

They later set a date: Wednesday, Oct. 30, at 9 a.m.

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