Plenty of signatures on Westerlo petition to trigger vote

WESTERLO — The deputy town clerk said a petition submitted Monday had more than enough signatures to force a public referendum on a $2.75 million bond resolution to upgrade buildings for the town of roughly 3,400 residents.

The resolution was passed on June 2, with all four town board members who were present voting in favor.

Deputy Town Clerk Gertrude Smith said, even with some signatures discounted for having addresses and names that didn’t match the voter rolls, the total of 158 signatures is expected to trigger the election.

Republican Commissioner Rachel Bledi of the Albany County Board of Elections couldn’t immediately confirm Wednesday whether the petition had been received by her office.

The project was scheduled for the next two years, but now may be delayed further — a reason town board members gave to go ahead with the resolution, despite calls for a public meeting on the project beforehand. Some board members, listening to residents speak in the gallery during recent meetings, suggested a petition might be inevitable.

The borrowing limit was set for two projects — renovating Town Hall and replacing the town’s highway garage. In between the two projects, the offices for State Police and the town’s court will be moved from the garage building to Town Hall. The board’s vote followed a long session of questioning by residents with concerns about the transparency and public awareness of the project, and for the long-term maintenance of the two buildings.

Based on conceptual designs by Delaware Engineering, both buildings will have improved insulation to lower heating costs; they will meet building codes and be accessible to people with disabilities and in wheelchairs. The conceptual design includes new office space inside the town hall, a new heating system, a sidewalk, and an expanded parking lot.

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