PLAINVILLE - Residents overwhelmingly approved state-mandated upgrades to the water pollution control facility at referendum Tuesday, ensuring that state funding won’t be flushed away.
The upgrades, to help reduce phosphorus levels in the discharge and thereby reduce algae, will cost $15,761,000. A state grant will cover $6.5 million and the rest will be paid for through a 20-year, 2 percent loan. The project is expected to begin this summer.
Had voters not approved the upgrades, state aid could have been cut and the state could have forced the town to do the upgrades anyway.
Due to the importance of the referendum,especially since the town budget is tight, the town mailed residents explaining the project.
Bob Berube, working the voting booths at the Plainville fire station, said turnout was less than expected at mid-afternoon, possibly due to light snow in the morning.
By 2 p.m., 95 people had voted. That number increased to 224 by 7:50 p.m., with Town Manager Robert E. Lee casting the last vote.
“I support it because I support the town not getting fined for not doing it,” said a woman who wished to remain anonymous. “We’re kind of damned if we do or damned if we don’t.”
Frank Avella, who voted with his wife, Irene, said that that he doesn’t normally vote in referendums, but said this project is important.
“I read about this in the newspapers and I felt it was necessary to get out and vote,” he said. “The state is going to want this to get done one way or another. If we don’t vote for it, it just won’t be funded.”
“This is something we have to do,” said Bob Swiatek. “Otherwise we could be fined for not complying.”
When all was said and done, the referendum passed by the convincing margin of 193-31.
Lee said that, while he was disappointed with the low turnout, he was pleased with the result.
“I’m happy that it passed with such a great majority voting in favor,” Lee said. “People clearly understood what was going on and that we needed to do this in order to save money. “