CASTLETON — Castleton folks are considering a couple of changes in its infrastructure: whether to approve building a new police station and whether to buy the Village School building. The police station vote will take place on May 12. Two weeks later, May 26, voters consider whether the town should “purchase” the Village School building on Mechanic Street from the school district.
Building the new police station lost by a squeak on Town Meeting Day, 365 to 353. A recount changed the vote, but only by one, 365 to 354. Locals who wanted to give voters a chance to reconsider gathered petition signatures to compel another town-wide balloting.
The school purchase question was driven solely by petition, circulated primarily by Frank Taggart, who believes that the town would save money by moving students in grades six through eight to the Castleton Elementary site and renovating the Village School for the police department and town offices.
Town and state requirements prevented voters from considering Taggert’s village school proposal on town meeting day because the warning for town meeting had already been finalized when Taggert requested adding the item to the ballot. Taggert came back to the select board at its March 23 meeting, thinking that the school building purchase question could be simply added to the police station construction question, only to learn that he would have to regather petition signatures for the proposal because the ones he was prepared to submit were a year old, gathered in March 2014. Although the select board acted promptly, calling a special meeting two days later, March 25, giving town clerk Nedra Boutwell time to verify the signatures, Taggart’s question could not be added to the ballot because the police station vote had already been scheduled. Now, for Taggart’s proposal to work effectively for the taxpayers of Castleton, the fire station proposal would have to be rejected by local voters.
Taggart believes the Mechanic Street building would provide a number of advantages for the community. The larger building would hold the town’s municipal offices as well as the police department; The former gymnasium could be used for large scale events including town meetings.
The $300,000 resulting from selling the Castleton Town School District’s buses (sold when the district dissolved) could be used for something other than the construction of the police department structure.