Scituate voters back school fixes, land buy

By Molly A. K. Connors
Globe Correspondent / May 23, 2010

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Scituate will repair an elementary school and buy another acre or so of waterfront property after Monday night’s Special Town Meeting approved $2.33 million in renovations to the Wampatuck Elementary School and the $1.87 million purchase of Pier 44.

About 515 people — approximately 150 more than at last month’s annual Town Meeting — turned out, said Town Clerk Bernice Brown.

“That’s a very good number for Town Meeting,’’ Brown said. “Clearly people knew what they came for.’’

Both measures, approved on voice votes, required two-thirds support from the voters present, and they needed quick action because of deadlines over which the town has little influence.

The purchase of Pier 44, at the intersection of Hatherly and Jericho roads, was brokered through an agreement in the US Bankruptcy Court for Massachusetts. Scituate has until mid-June to complete the purchase of the property.

The bankruptcy court valued Pier 44 at about $2.6 million. Some MBTA mitigation funds earmarked for open space will be used to buy the property.

The Wampatuck School renovations also need to start this summer, said school officials. The building needs updated fire safety and electrical systems, a new heating system, roof repairs, new tiles, and a new boiler.

While about 40 percent of the renovations will be reimbursed by the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the town has to borrow money for the work, and residents will still see their taxes rise.

Based on the average single-family home price of about $505,800, officials have said they expect the cost to be about $434.58 per household, or about $21.73 a year over the 20-year bond, which carries a 4.5 percent interest rate.

Because Massachusetts law does not allow cities and towns to increase overall property taxes by more than 2.5 percent each year without voter approval, residents have to accept the Wampatuck proposal both at Town Meeting and at an election June 19 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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