Puzzling results from local voters
Perhaps the third time will be the charm. We fully expect that a proposed expansion of Milford’s Wadleigh Memorial Library will be back before voters next March after its defeat this year, which followed its defeat last year.
But this is Milford, where it took four votes to approve a new police station and three or four to approve a new middle school, so losing twice, as the Wadleigh expansion has, really is no big deal. We wonder, though, why it lost. Was it just a money issue? Possibly, given that voters also rejected the town and school operating budgets and a $3 million capital improvement plan for the schools.
It’s also possible that the proposed design wasn’t as popular as one might have hoped. It would have taken the library right down to the Nashua Street sidewalk, doing away with the front lawn. It’s possible that this might have had at least something to do with a vote that wasn’t even close. We agree that a bigger library is needed and, frankly, that’s good news. It means more folks are using the library, and that’s something we like to see. Somehow, library officials have to figure out why voters said such a resounding "No" this year and last. Indeed, the totals this year and last were close: In 2015, there were 953 votes in favor and 1,188 against. This year, there were 981 for the plan, but 1,680 against it. So, what’s the issue for voters? If it’s money, they might have to consider a smaller project, if that’s even possible. If it’s the design, then perhaps they need to return to the drawing board. The question is, How are they to determine this?
As for the town and school budgets – come on, voters, the difference between the proposed budgets and the default budgets that now must be used isn’t all that great, so what’s the point? Do you really think there is fat in town and school spending packages?
And shooting down the capital improvement fund? What? All the schools are in such great shape? They’d better be, because repair costs aren’t going to go down over the next few years. Perhaps voters didn’t like the idea of air conditioning for the high school gym and some interior spaces. That was a bit controversial. Also at MHS, there were plans for a new gym floor and 75 new interior doors. Did voters not think these things were needed? And did voters not see the need for remodeling bathrooms and getting new lockers at the middle school? What about the plan for a districtwide energy management system?
Obviously, district officials believe these things are needed, and these officials, being Milford residents, aren’t wont to spend money needlessly. So, voters? What’s the problem? It’s important for the town and school officials to figure it out before next March. One really good thing from voting day in Milford was the turnout: 26 percent. Right, that’s nothing to pound our chests about, but it’s good for a March vote. Really.
Of course, we wish the turnout was two or three times that, but we wish for a lot of things that are unlikely to come true.