By JOHN S. McCRIGHT
BRIDPORT — By a 81-75 vote, Bridport residents on Thursday approved a plan to spend $600,000 to build a new town garage and move the fire department across the street into the current municipal garage.
With the vote behind them, town officials hope to begin construction of the new garage in late September, with the road crew and its five town vehicles taking occupancy by the time snow flies.
Building the new, five-bay garage is estimated to cost $500,000 and will be erected on a 16-acre parcel of town-owned land at the intersection of Crown Point Road and Short Street. The spot is already the site of a sand and salt shed operated jointly by Bridport and the state of Vermont.
The town will spend an estimated $100,000 to renovate the current, four-bay town garage to accommodate the Bridport Volunteer Fire Department, which officials say has outgrown its two-bay firehouse. Four fireßtrucks are parked bumper-to-bumper in the firehouse, another truck is parked in the town garage, and a sixth is out for repairs.
If no resident files a petition for a revote within the required 30 days, the town will borrow $600,000 on a 20-year-note, according to Town Treasurer and Assistant Town Clerk Tom Charbonneau. Based on the current year’s grand list, payments on the loan will add about 6.5 cents to the municipal tax rate in the first year and a little less in each succeeding year.
Bridport officials had been trying to relieve a space crunch in town facilities for several years. Moving the fire department out of the building it currently shares with the town offices will not only give firefighters a little breathing room, but will also listers could move into the current fire department space. That will free up additional space in the town office portion of the building.
Only about 18 percent of registered Bridport voters cast ballots in Thursday’s election. While unfortunate, selectboard Chairman Tom Broughton said that the desire to get started on construction this season pushed the board to hold the voting during August.
“We knew that this time of year there are a lot of people on vacation, but we wanted to proceed with the project,” Broughton said.
The next Bridport selectboard meeting will be on Sept. 18.