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Norwich Voters Reject Plan To Replace Police And Fire Stations

Charlotte Albright
Mary Layton and Kris Clement react to news that the borrowing plan they opposed to replace facilities for police, firefighters and public workers was defeated. Layton won her bid for select board, but Clement was defeated.

Voters in Norwich refused Tuesday to borrow $3 million to replace aging facilities for police, fire and public works employees. The failure of the bond question also seems to have spilled over to the select board race.

The town of Norwich has been wrangling for years about whether and how to upgrade its decrepit police and fire stations. But when asked to approve a multi-million dollar bond to replace the facilities, voters balked. They defeated it by about 60 votes out of approximately 1,000 cast.

As a selectman, Christopher Ashley strongly supported the bond. So even though he fended off a challenger, he was not happy the facilities projects came up short.

“I thought it was a well thought out and reasonable plan that would have moved our town forward. Clearly a modest majority of the voters disagreed. I think there’s a huge need for our road crew, our firefighters and our police that we upgrade their facilities so I’m not going to give up on that,” Ashley said.

Mary Layton, a newcomer to politics, opposed the bond, and she unseated incumbent selectman Keith Moran, who reluctantly supported it. Moran abruptly left the polls as soon as his defeat was announced. Layton said the select board will now have to figure out a more affordable way to improve the deteriorating headquarters for police, firefighters, and public works staff.

"I’d just like to see efficiency in town government and I would like to see better communication and hopefully a smoother process on the select board, and make sure that the electorate is well informed about decisions and that they are properly made,” Layton said.

Layton and her fellow select board members were sworn in minutes after the ballots were tallied by machine.

Town Clerk Bonnie Munday said that way, the board will be ready to get to work this week.

Charlotte Albright lives in Lyndonville and currently works in the Office of Communication at Dartmouth College. She was a VPR reporter from 2012 - 2015, covering the Upper Valley and the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to that she freelanced for VPR for several years.
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