Rollstone Church Voting Plan Stands
FITCHBURG -- The City Council has denied reconsideration of the vote taken last month to move the Ward 5 polling station from Saima Park to Rollstone Congregational Church.
“There was no majority actually recorded in favor of either of the two proposed locations,” said At-Large Councilor Anthony Zarrella, who made the motion at the council’s Tuesday meeting to reconsider the vote.
In April, the council first voted 5-6 vote against keeping the station at Saima Park and then 7-4 for moving it to Rollstone Congregational Church. For the second vote, two councilors, Zarrella and Amy Green, switched their votes out of a courtesy, he said.
“I feel that because this has generated so much controversy, that whatever option we go with have a clear, at least 6, vote majority,” Zarella said.
The vote was 7-5 not to reconsider the vote.
Members who voted against revisiting it were Sam Squailia, E. Thomas Donnelly, Joel Kaddy, David Clark, Michael Kushmerek, and Paul Beauchemin.
The rest of the council voted to reconsider the vote: Zarrella, Green, Marcus DiNatale, Marisa Fleming, and Elizabeth Walsh.
Before the meeting, voters from precincts 5A and 5B sent in comments both in support of keeping the poll station at the park and moving it to the church.
Several who came to the meeting said Rollstone would be the best option.
Ward 5B voter Fred Hutchings said the shuttle bus service the city has provided over the years to get to Saima Park to vote has been unreliable.
“It’s not a practical solution to the problem of access,” he said.
In other news, the council unanimously approved a resolution that would help the city become an aggregator of electric power.
AJ Tourigny, the mayor’s chief of staff, said as an agreggator, the city would purchase electricity at a bulk rate on behalf of residents and busiensses in community.
“Municipal aggregation is to save the Fitchburg residents dollars on their bills,” he said.
The goal is to get a fixed, reduced rate for residents, Tourigny said. They can join or opt out of the program.
About 150 communities in the state are municipal electric aggregators, including Gardner.
Before the vote, some councilors said the deal seems like a good idea and that the savings could help. Others said were cautious about how costs could add up.
As a next step, the city will issue a request for proposals to procure an energy broker to work on city’s behalf and come up with a plan to submit to the state agencies that oversee the program.
It could take six months before the plans come back to the council for approval and another six months to go through he bid process, Tourigny said.
Also Tuesday night, councilors approved a $30,00 allocation for the city to hire an appraiser to look at 13 easements on properties for the Twin City Rail Trail project and give compensation for easements, Community Development Executive Director Tom Skwierawski told the council.
“We really need to get this tied up and in order by the end of August,” he said.
Most of the land will have short-term easements for construction, Skwierawski said.
Related to the rail trail project, the council’s City Property Committee approved an order to use its power of eminent domain to get a parcel that is across the street from First Street and Railroad Park.
That site will be the starting point for a bridge over the Nashua River ending at the MBTA Intermodal Center.
Overall, the Twin City Rail Trail will connect downtown Leominster and Fitchburg.
In other business, the council unanimously approved the hiring of a new firefighter and appointed two to lieutenant and captain.
Patrick Roy, who was sworn in as captain, and Andrew Doughty, sworn in lieutenant, were promoted to fill the vacancy created by Brian Murchie, who retired as captain.
Troy Worthley was appointed as a full-time firefighter.
Family, friends and members of the Fire Department were in attendance.
″(It’s) another good night for our department,” said Fire Chief Kevin Roy.
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