The old grandstand in Nichols Park in Spencer, which the Village Board is trying to raise money to fix up.

The old grandstand in Nichols Park in Spencer, which the Village Board is trying to raise money to fix up. 

 

The Village of Spencer is now the proud owner of a lot located at 66 Brooks St., which will someday be the future home of the Spencer Fire Department. The Village closed on the property on April 30, and now the next step is to determine what kind of structure the department would like to build within the limits of what the Village can afford. 

Following the May 30 meeting of the Spencer Village Board, Spencer Village Trustee Gil Knapp outlined the next steps in the fire station capital project. First, representatives of the fire department and the board will visit area fire stations built fairly recently to see what they look like. They will also meet with fire department members from those stations to learn from them what they like about the new buildings and what they would do differently, given the chance. 

After collecting information on other buildings, the board and the Spencer fire chiefs will meet to outline what they want and need in a fire station. Those specifications can then be compiled so the project can be put out to bid for an engineering firm to design. Included in the design phase is a cost estimate. Knapp stressed that they will have to revise plans and expectations if the cost is too high. 

“It has to be affordable,” he said firmly. Once a plan is approved and the budget for it established, then the next step would be to propose a bond to the voters and ask them to approve it. “At that point, the fire department members will have to let the people know what they need and why they need it,” said Knapp. Knapp estimates that this will likely be a two to three year process. 

Although the Village budget was adopted earlier in May, budget issues are a large factor in another Village decision. The venerable, historic grandstand in Nichols Park needs a thorough rehabilitation. The board applied for grants to help fund the $70,000 project, but received only $10,000 in grant money and $10,000 from anonymous donations. That leaves $50,000 for the Village to raise. 

On June 14, the board will meet to discuss whether they can possibly pay for the balance out of the current year’s budget. “We believe it’s something the residents support us doing, and we think we can do it,” said Knapp, “but, we have to see the figures on paper to see how we’ll do it.” 

The other continuing issue before the board is the Joint Town-Village Planning Board. The Town has not been able to find willing volunteers to serve on it and is seriously considering withdrawing from the agreement. The Town has until June 30 to inform the Village, if it intends to withdraw. If the Town were to cease its participation in the Joint Planning Board, then the Village would continue to have a planning board on its own, according to Mayor Ken Sutfin. If the Town withdraws, the effective date would likely be December 31. 

Without Town members in attendance at Joint Planning Board meetings, the issue of a quorum comes up. One suggestion raised by the mayor at the May 14 Town Board meeting was for a village resident to serve on the Planning Board, but representing the Town, not the Village. The Town attorney referred the legality of that suggestion to the Village attorney, who has not responded directly to that. What Attorney Irene Graven did say is that the Village can establish a three-person Village Planning Board if it is separate from the Town. The Village Board needs to review the Site Plan Law to determine if there is any explicit language that states how many members a planning board must have. If there is not, then the Village can proceed with a smaller planning board “We are weighing our options,” said the mayor. 

In other business: 

• the board paid year-end bills, made annual appointments, and reorganized for its new fiscal year, which runs June 1 to May 31. 

• the summer recreation program for children, Panther PAK, will take place again this summer with the same director

• the flashing was repaired earlier at the north door of the meeting room of the Municipal Building. The masonry work to repair the damaged blocks will be done this year 

• Dead trees identified as dangerous were removed in April on Center Street 

• Nichols Park may become a geocaching site. The board granted approval for this at the May 1 meeting

• on June 6 Center Street will be milled and on June 7, it will be paved. A small section of Guiles Street by the restaurant will be paved. Potholes will be filled fairly soon. 

• Upcoming dates: June 8 to 9 yard sale days; June 15 is Village-only clean up. 

The board noted that the regular monthly business meetings will return to the first Monday of the month at 7 p.m. The next meeting will be on July 1.

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