Shelburne voters to decide on $1.12 million bond vote in March election

Lilly Young | Community News Service

Shelburne residents will vote on March 2 whether to approve a $1.12 million bond to purchase land for a new Health Living store and rights to build a fire and rescue station in the future.

If the bond is approved all residents will face an estimated 0.0047 tax rate on their property tax starting July 1 2021. For example, if a resident’s property is valued at $100,000, they will pay $4.70 per year.

In Sep. 2018, Healthy Living negotiated with Rice and Lumber to purchase a lot in the same complex as Heartworks and Archie’s Grill. Healthy Living approached the town of Shelburne and offered a piece of the newly-acquired lot in April 2019. The town pursued the opportunity, as the space had been considered the best site for a new fire and rescue station as early as 2007, Town Manager Lee Krohn said.

The $1.12 million will go towards purchasing the land, rights to build, shared infrastructure costs with Healthy Living and any contingencies or unknown costs that arise. Shared infrastructure costs include property water lines, sewer lines, internet, electricity and other utilities. Healthy Living has agreed to pay for any extra costs that go above what the town has already agreed upon.

If the bond passes, Healthy Living will begin construction and the town will pay for any shared costs. The bond will not go towards building a new fire and rescue station. Residents will vote to fund the construction of a new fire and rescue station in three to five years if the $1.12 million bond is passed, Krohn said.

“It’s really a two phase program…the first is to acquire the property… if that is approved by voters, then eventually we move to phase two and the actual structure,” Krohn said.

Both fire and rescue have outgrown the stations they currently occupy. Rescue’s space was only meant to be temporary. However, they have been there for 35 years. The rescue station has had issues including: electrical, water, pests and even floor buckling when too many people are upstairs. “We’ve been pushing the limits and calls are still increasing every year,” Rescue Chief Jacob Leopold said.

The fire department has wanted to move locations as their current station is in a high traffic area with the library next door. “Us getting away from [the traffic], not [only] because we need a new building or need to get closer to where most of our calls are, [but because] it’s a very unsafe area for everyone,” Ouimet said about the fire department’s current location.

A study conducted in 2007 identified the site that Healthy Living offered to the town as the best location for a new station. Since both fire and rescue need upgraded buildings, the town hopes to combine the agencies in the future.

The Community News Service is part of the Reporting and Documentary Storytelling Program at the University of Vermont.

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