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Chelsea Town Garage Up for Vote on Monday

  • Marvin Carey, of Chelsea, Vt., pets Charlie Ladd's dog Hank in front of the Chelsea Town Garage on May 8, 2014. Carey and Ladd, also of Chelsea,  agree that a new town garage is long overdue. (<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    Marvin Carey, of Chelsea, Vt., pets Charlie Ladd's dog Hank in front of the Chelsea Town Garage on May 8, 2014. Carey and Ladd, also of Chelsea, agree that a new town garage is long overdue. (
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Chelsea road foreman Rick Ackerman grades a road in Chelsea, Vt., on May 8, 2014. The town will vote on Monday to see if it should replace the town garage. <br/>(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    Chelsea road foreman Rick Ackerman grades a road in Chelsea, Vt., on May 8, 2014. The town will vote on Monday to see if it should replace the town garage.
    (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Chelsea Town Garage in Chelsea, Vt. on May 8, 2014. Sections of the floor in the garage are dirt. <br/>(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    The Chelsea Town Garage in Chelsea, Vt. on May 8, 2014. Sections of the floor in the garage are dirt.
    (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Marvin Carey, of Chelsea, Vt., pets Charlie Ladd's dog Hank in front of the Chelsea Town Garage on May 8, 2014. Carey and Ladd, also of Chelsea,  agree that a new town garage is long overdue. (<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)
  • Chelsea road foreman Rick Ackerman grades a road in Chelsea, Vt., on May 8, 2014. The town will vote on Monday to see if it should replace the town garage. <br/>(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)
  • The Chelsea Town Garage in Chelsea, Vt. on May 8, 2014. Sections of the floor in the garage are dirt. <br/>(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

Chelsea — After some two decades of debate over whether to replace the town garage and where to put a new one, residents will vote Monday on whether to raise $587,000 toward building a new home on East Randolph Road for municipal vehicles.

Now town officials are turning their attention to turnout at the polls. At last fall’s vote on whether to raise $162,000 to buy the land for the new garage, 280 of some 900 eligible residents cast ballots — 196 of them voting in favor.

“I would like to think that 300 people would come out and vote their opinion on this,” Selectboard Chairwoman Carol Olsen said on Thursday. “I think people are ready for this to happen.”

Selectman Mike Button said the scale of the investment warrants a good turnout. All told, between the acquisition of the land, construction and other costs, the garage is projected to cost a little more than $1 million.

“I’ve been saying to people in town, ‘The end is in sight.’ We have a project in front of us that the community can support,” Button said. “I’d really like to see a good turnout; 350 to 400 would be spectacular. It would be disappointing to have a decision of this magnitude made by a small number of taxpayers.”

Polls will be open from 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday at Town Hall.

At the current garage site in the center of town, at the intersection of routes 110 and 113, most of the town’s fleet of highway vehicles — a grader, a backhoe, a loader, two large dump trucks and one smaller dump truck — sit out in the elements when not undergoing repairs.

Issues with the 87-year-old building include poor insulation, roof leaks, ceiling mold, a lack of work space, narrow bay doors and an uneven gravel floor — all of which raise concerns among inspectors for the Vermont League of Cities and Towns in considering insurance rates.

“The garage we have now is unsafe and unhealthy,” Olsen said. “We need to just do this. The price tag has gone from $220,000 to $600,000 to just over $1 million.”

Before last October’s vote to buy the land on East Randolph Road near the corner of Vermont Route 110, townspeople over the previous decade had voted to put money into a reserve fund that ultimately grew past $200,000.

And on the floor of Town Meeting this past March, the voice vote to transfer $73,000 into the reserve fund from a long-dormant timber harvest account produced only “ayes.” Town officials estimate that under a 30-year bond issue, at a bit less than 4 percent interest, the appropriation of $587,000 would raise the municipal tax rate by 3.6 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Olsen said that the Selectboard settled on a building of 70-by-100 feet, rather than a slightly smaller size, partly “so that all of our equipment can go inside” and partly to allow for more room for new vehicles the town might acquire down the line, as well as for workers to move around safely.

“We would like our garage to go up this year,” Olsen said. “If nothing else, we have to make sure that some of the landscaping is done.”

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304.

CORRECTION

Chelsea stores its highway trucks at the 87-year-old town garage located in the center of town, at the intersection of routes 110 and 113. The town parks its larger maintenance equipment and stockpiles sand at a facility next to Heath Field, a short distance south on Route 110. The location of the garage and its function were incorrect in an earlier version of this story.