Voters say no to new garage 

SOUTHWEST HARBORResidents opted not to go ahead with a $1.9 million public works garage on Tuesday by a difference of nine votes. 

The final number for the vote on whether to build a new garage where the current one stands on Seal Cove Road was 280 yes, 289 no. It was one of two local referendum questions that went before voters in conjunction with the state primary election. Approval of the proposed changes to the Coastal Waters and Harbor Ordinance passed more handily by a vote of 383109. 

On August 11, the remaining warrant articles are slated to go before voters on a secret ballot.  

Town Manager Justin VanDongen has said that without a new public works garage, much of the equipment will have to be housed elsewhere because of the state of the current building. It is insured for liability-only at this point, with a roof that may not hold up to any significant snowfall through the next season. 

In May, members of the Board of Selectmen decided to accept the lowest bid of $1.8 million, contingent upon approval from the voters. If approved, construction on the garage was expected to start as soon as possible.  

A public hearing was held on Monday night with the board, prior to a regular meeting, to field questions regarding the fiscal year 2021 school budget that will be part of the Aug. 11 ballot. More of the discussion centered around the public works garage project and possible cost-saving measures.  

“We’ve been talking about this garage for five years,” board member Kristin Hutchins said to the group of people meeting through Zoom. “Now we have a complete design and something to put before the voters. If it fails, we’ll start again. It’s going to cost us money, but we’ll start again.” 

There were 602 voters for the Tuesday election out of 1,579 registered voters in the town, a 38 percent turnout. Voters also re-elected school committee members Ingrid Wilbur-Kachmar and James Sawyer, both of whom were uncontested for their seats on the board. Wilbur-Kachmar was also re-elected to the regional school district board of trustees in another uncontested race.  

Three people were vying for two seats on the Board of Selectmen. Carolyn Ball won one of them with 340 votes and George Jellison Jr. won the other with 341 votes. Jellison left the board last year after serving three terms and Ball is a new member of the board. Eric Clark had 232 votes in that race.   

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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