Weather keeps Hampstead voters home
HAMPSTEAD - First it was Friday's blizzard. Then it was a second round of snow and freezing rain on Monday.
Town officials said the weather took its toll on attendance at the town's annual deliberative session.
The session, which was to be held last Friday but was moved to Monday night due to the storm, attracted only 28 of the town's 6,267 registered voters. Most of those who turned out for the rescheduled session were board members.
"The weather definitely had an impact. They came outside, saw ice on their cars, and then went back inside and stayed home," town clerk Patricia Curran said.
Attendance was down from the 70 or so who typically attend the deliberative session - the only time voters can debate and amend proposed warrant articles before casting final votes March 12.
The few voters who turned out made no changes to the warrant and engaged in little discussion.
The big ticket item up for another vote this year is a proposal to build a new police station that would also serve as an emergency center.
Police Chief Joseph Beaudoin urged voters to support the $1,638,000 plan, saying it was time for the town to "step up to the plate."
This will be the fifth time since 2007 that voters have considered a new station proposal.
The 7,600-square-foot station would be built on town land near the town garage with entrances from Stage Road and Veterans Way. It would replace the station on Emerson Avenue that was originally built to be a fire station and doesn't have adequate space or facilities, police and other town officials said.
To build support for the new station, Beaudoin provided statistics to show just how busy the town is, with just over 9,000 residents and about 370 businesses.
Last year, he said, police received 15,000 calls, made 138 arrests, responded to 193 accidents, and investigated 68 thefts, 39 burglaries and five sexual assaults.
"We do have the same problems that every town has," he said.
Stephen Londrigan, chairman of the police station building committee, said the plan is the same as the one proposed last year, but the price tag has increased due to higher building costs. He said it will cost $7 per square foot more that it would have cost under the plan defeated by voters last year.
Because the plan would be paid for all at once and not through a 10-year bond, it will only need a simple majority vote to pass. In past years, the plan required a 60 percent vote.
The town's proposed $5,363,580 town budget also generated no debate Monday night and was sent on to the warrant unchanged along with other proposed articles.