GREENLAND — Voters had their say, passing the town and school district budgets, but turning down a new fire station and taking no action on a controversial vote on the library.
Town Clerk Marge Morgan said voter turnout was steady, but not large. She said 935 votes were cast, with 2,223 registered voters in town.
There were four contested races, three on the town side and one for School Board. Richard Hussey and Steve Smith took the two open seats on the Board of Selectmen, with 317 and 544 votes respectively, defeating challenger Ron Gross. Frank Hansler, with 330 votes, defeated Todd Cadle, who received 318 votes for a one-year-term on the Budget Committee. Two seats on the Planning Board went to David Moore and Stephen Gerrato.
Talley Westerberg, with 473 votes won a seat on the School Board, defeating Christopher Evilsizer who received 209 votes.
A warrant article asking voters to rescind approval of a 2018 town meeting vote that appropriated $3.6 million for expansion of the Weeks Public Library was moot. Morgan said they had already been told that because of language, the article could not stand.
"Because it was a citizen petition, we had to put in on the warrant," said Morgan. "People voted on it anyway."
The article would have failed had it been legal, with 533 no votes to 371 yes.
Hoping to sway voters to vote no on the library article, residents David Phreaner and Chris Peters stood at the polls to explain why they felt that the warrant article was not legal, and to talk about why the library expansion project, approved last year, is important to the town.
"We hope we get a resounding no vote, one that sends a message that the people in this town want to see the library project move forward," said Phreaner. "Some people are saying that with the advent of the Internet, a library is not a important today. They are absolutely misguided about that. Libraries and research are so much more relevant with the Internet."
"We love our library, but it is too small for our needs today," said Peters. "The librarian's desk is surrounded by boxes of books because there is no room to put them on shelves. The children's section is in the basement. There are very steep stairs to get down and it is not suitable for any child with disabilities.”
Voters turned down $2.9 million for a new fire station.
People polling for the fire station, which also required a three-fifth approval, said they want it understood that they are not against the library project. Instead, Budget Committee member Bob Krasko they wanted the money put on hold until several issues can be worked out.
"There is not enough room on that piece of land for the expansion," said Krasko. "A fire truck could not drive behind the building. Plus it looks like the town does not own the land the library sits on. It seems the Weeks family never transferred the title."
The draft minutes of a March 4 selectman's meeting seem to support the claim that the town does not hold clear title to the land. When the town attorney could not locate a deed of the land to the town, Selectman Paul Sanderson researched the estate of Caroline Weeks and also found no evidence the land was ever passed to the town.
The operating budget of $4,782,273 passed. Voters turned down a salary request for a school resource officer and approved an article asking to buy new fire safety equipment.
On the school side, the operating budget of $11,366,938 passed.