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Upton Voters Support Community Center and Downtown Revitalization Article; Postpone Selling Two Buil

Three articles on Upton's Special Town Meeting warrant were associated with a revitalization project for the downtown area that would involve the construction of a municipal community center to house the Library and Senior Center, and selling off two town-owned buildings.

Town Manager Derek Brindisi explained that the Board of Selectmen appointed a Joint Feasibility Committee made up of Library Trustees, the Council on Aging and several others. The Committee's charge is to come up with conceptual designs for a building that would be sited on a parcel of land downtown for those two departments and possibly other municipal services.

Article 25 was seeking $50,000 in funding; $40,000 was needed to develop conceptual drawings for the community center and $10,000 for a rendering that will display the vision of a multi-phased revitalization for the downtown area.

While residents didn't seem to disagree with the need for a new Library and Senior Center, they had a number of questions on the downtown revitalization project.

Resident Ellen Arnold voiced her concern on having input on the revitalization project. Chair of the Economic Development Committee Gene Bernat, stated town officials will engage professional developers as well as the community with the vision for the downtown area. "It will be disciplined; it will be open," he said. Eventually residents passed Article 25

The following articles, 26 and 27, concerned selling the town owned Risteen Building and former Holy Angels Church, respectively, that would ultimately be part of the downtown revitalization project. Brindisi explained the articles authorize the Board of Selectmen to

sell or transfer the properties with the intent to make the parcels available. An amendment was made and approved to Article 26 clarifying the Library cannot be sold until the tenants are relocated. However, Ellen Arnold stated it seems like "we're putting the cart before the horse," suggesting conceptual plans for the revitalization project should first be approved before voting on Articles 26 and 27. "These are all steps in the process. We can't arbitrarily build anything, that's the reason for the articles," said Selectman Stephen Matellian, who also reminded residents to consider their taxes. "All of these expenditures affect your taxes. At some point in time, you will be asked most likely about land or engineering, both of these are going to cost money. Not $50,000, its going to be significantly more. Everybody's opinion is valued. You may like your money more than another building. If you don't like the article, express your concerns and people will vote accordingly. Eventually Matellian made a motion to table Article 26, which passed by 2/3 majority vote. Article 27 was passed over as well.


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