PLAINVILLE - Town residents overwhelmingly approved state-mandated upgrades to the water pollution control facility in Tuesday’s referendum, ensuring that state funding would not be flushed away.
The referendum passed by a landslide, with 193 votes in favor and 31 votes against.
The upgrades, intended to help reduce phosphorus levels in discharge and thereby reduce algae, will cost a total of $15,761,000. A state grant will cover $6.5 million of the costs and the rest will be paid for via a 20-year, 2 percent loan. The project is expected to begin this summer.
Had voters not approved the upgrades, state aid could have been cut and the state could have forced the town to do the upgrades anyway. Due to the importance of this referendum, especially when the town budget is tight, the town sent out mailers explaining the project prior to the all day vote being held.
Bob Berube, who was working the voter booths at the Plainville Fire Station, said that voter turnout was less than expected by mid-afternoon though, possibly due to light snow that morning. By 2 p.m., 95 people had voted. That number increased to 224 by 7:50 p.m., with Town Manager Robert E. Lee casting the final vote.
“I support it because I support the town not getting fined for not doing it,” said a woman who wished to remain anonymous. “We’re kind of damned if we do or damned if we don’t.”
Frank Avella, who voted with his wife Irene, said that that he doesn’t normally vote at referendums, but that this project is important.
“I read about this in the newspapers and I felt it was necessary to get out and vote,” he said. “The state is going to want this to get done one way or another. If we don’t vote for it, it just won’t be funded.”
“This is something we have to do,” said Bob Swiatek. “Otherwise we could be fined for not complying.”
Lee said that while he was disappointed with the low turnout he was ultimately pleased with the results.
“I’m happy that it passed with such a great majority voting in favor,” Lee said. “People clearly understood what was going on and that we needed to do this in order to save money.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.