Dover voters turn down Paw House purchase
by Christian Avard
Oct 28, 2010 | 2068 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DOVER- There was a high turnout at Friday’s special election as voters defeated a proposal to purchase the Paw House Inn property for economic development purposes. Now the town’s economic development specialist and the Dover Economic Development Committee will have to come up with new plans to encourage economic growth and strengthen the local economy.

Voters were asked, “Shall general obligation bonds of the Town of Dover in an amount not to exceed $1,250,000, subject to reduction from available state and federal construction grants-in-aid and other financial assistance, be issued for the purpose of making certain public improvements, vis: the acquisition of a 3.76 acre parcel of land on Route 100, and the development thereof for public open space and facilities, such improvements estimated to cost $1,250,000.”

Out of 307 voters, 114 voted “yes,” 193 voted “no.” The article was defeated. “We had 280 voters at the 2008 Town Meeting and 306 voters at the 2009 Town Meeting. For a special vote, that is amazing,” said town clerk Andy McLean.

McLean noted the turnout was much higher than the special selectboard election in fall 2007, which drew 156 voters, and the special selectboard election in 2009, which drew 258 voters. McLean credited the high voter turnout to the selectboard and Dover Economic Development specialist Patrick Moreland for getting the word out in such a short time span. “They really did a good job,” said McLean.

Last Wednesday, Moreland presented to the town the benefits of purchasing the Paw House Inn property. Had voters approved the article, the town would have acquired and redeveloped the property for a visitors’ center, park benches, picnic spaces, and/or concerts on the green. Residents expressed concern over the project because the estimated costs were too high. Proponents of the purchase said it would open doors to new economic activity.

Although the article was defeated, Moreland said he was “very impressed” with the number of people who voted. He also acknowledged that it is difficult for any community to evaluate a decision, like a bond vote, with the clock ticking. “More time may or may not have made a difference, but it definitely would have raised the level of comfort in discussing it further,” said Moreland.

As for the town’s future economic development plans, Moreland said he will look at all the options and consult with residents and town leaders as to what is the best approach. “Many see a need for a community center, others see benefit in a multiuse public park. Each idea has its merits and the two are not mutually exclusive. The fact is that these two types of facilities will have radically differing costs and might best be located in different places within the town. I really see each as a must: the park for its economic development benefits and the community center for its community development benefits,” said Moreland.
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