Webster voters advance museum plan, reject loan for Bartlett High offices

WEBSTER – Empowered with electronic voting for the first time, voters on Monday approved a nearly $42.5 million municipal budget for fiscal 2018, a 5 percent increase from the present fiscal year; an $810,000 loan for the extension of a water main, and a businessman’s plan to put a museum in an unused town-owned building.

Voters approved of 17 of the 18 articles they were asked to consider during a special town meeting and annual town meeting.

The only unfavorable vote, with 59 people against and 56 in favor, concerned a loan request of $140,000 to finish renovating and remodeling Bartlett High School for school administrative offices.

During the May 2014 town meeting, voters authorized a loan of $854,000 to renovate a wing at Bartlett High for administrative offices, with much of the work to be done by students from Bay Path Regional Vocational High School in Charlton. Webster is a Bay Path member town.

Ted Avlas, assistant to the superintendent for business, said bids came in higher than original estimates for some of the contracted work, and the scope of the work the students have performed changed, increasing the overall cost of the project.

Voter Bob Whitelaw voiced displeasure with the pace of the project.

Meanwhile, the large loan for the extension of a water main will set the stage for a new filtration plant. The loan is for installation and extension of a water main on Thompson Road from Memorial Beach Drive to Park Road. The town intends to bid for the construction of a water filtration plant in the fall.

Before that work can be done, the town needs to upgrade the water main along Thompson Road, to flow filtered water from the filtration plant to a water storage tank.

Voters also gave approval for the town to negotiate a lease with Christopher Robert, the president of Webster Ventures, who plans to build a historical museum in the former National Guard Armory, a town-owned property at 31 Ray St.

In giving that building to the town, the state imposed a restriction that it be used specifically for a community youth facility. That plan that never materialized.

Voters approved petitioning the state Legislature to release the restriction, so that Mr. Robert can progress with the proposed museum, which aims to celebrate the town’s role in the American Industrial Revolution.


By Brian Lee
Telegram & Gazette Staff

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