RYE — There were no contested races when voters went to the polls on Tuesday, but once again the question of whether to renovate the Town Hall, or tear it down and build a new one divided residents.
Town Clerk Donna DeCotis said the voters came steadily all day. She also noted she sent out 297 absentee ballots, with 260 coming back in.
Article 6 asking voters to approve an override to a 10 percent limitation mandated by the Budget Committee, and to raise $3.5 million using a 20- to 30-year bond to build a new town hall on the current site and demolish the current building, which required a 60 percent vote to pass, failed with 1,219 no votes to 407 yes.
The Town Hall question has reared its head every year, for several years. Some people cited the historic value of the building and said evaluations of the building prove it is worth saving. Others disagree and want an entirely new, up-to-date building on the site where the Town Hall currently stands.
“The proposal is essentially the same as what was proposed last year by John Loftus,” said Priscilla Jenness, selectmen chair, in an earlier interview. “One thing is that the article does not show information on interest, They are talking about a 20- or 30-year bond and depending on the interest, we could end up paying as high as $5.9 million by the time it’s done. In the meantime, we have people, a group called the Friends of the Town Hall working hard to renovate and update our current town hall. They are seeking grants and had a structural study done which shows the building is structurally sound.”
John Loftus was at the polls to support his plan.
"We keep bringing it back, but it's hard to predict what voters will do," said Loftus. "We keep bringing out the facts but it is the voters' decision."
Jay Brack, who served on the committee in favor of the new Town Hall said the town has been playing with rehabilitating the building for the last five years, with nothing to show for it except a new coat of paint.
"I have spent my life working in human resources," said Brack. "That old building is not a good place for employees to work. Plus, there are so many boards and committees in town and no place in the Town Hall for them to meet. Most of the time, they have to hold their meetings at the library. I think people are getting tired of this issue and we should figure it out."
Three articles concerned dogs on town beaches and in the town forest. Dogs on the beaches in Rye is another issue that comes up all the time.
Last year a committee to look at the issue was formed, and the articles are a result of the committee’s work.
Article 26, defining terms for dogs on the town beaches passed, 886 to 737.
Article 27, passed, defining what it means for a dog to be under control of their owner, 907 to 712.
Article 28 failed. It would have established a voice and sight control program. Based on a program in Colorado, the program would have dog owners watch a video and agree to terms of controlling and when to leash their dog. A yearly tag would be issued for the animal, confirming it was part of the program.
Voters approved a $9.7 million operating budget.