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Contoocook Fire Station will be expanded

  • Wendy Koch of West Hopkinton, center left, catches up with Joab Owen of Hopkinton during a break between article discussions during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014.<br/><br/>(Libby March for The Concord Monitor)

    Wendy Koch of West Hopkinton, center left, catches up with Joab Owen of Hopkinton during a break between article discussions during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014.

    (Libby March for The Concord Monitor)

  • Arthur Bonaceto of Hopkinton listens to discussion about during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014.<br/><br/>(Libby March for The Concord Monitor)

    Arthur Bonaceto of Hopkinton listens to discussion about during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014.

    (Libby March for The Concord Monitor)

  • Liam Mullen of Hopkinton, 13, adjusts his hat, sitting with Andrew Porter of Weare, 15, while raising funds for robotics club during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014.<br/><br/>(Libby March for The Concord Monitor)

    Liam Mullen of Hopkinton, 13, adjusts his hat, sitting with Andrew Porter of Weare, 15, while raising funds for robotics club during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014.

    (Libby March for The Concord Monitor)

  • Town Moderator Gary Richardson accepts a plaque from Selectman Jim O'Brien during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Richardson has served as moderator for 28 years.<br/><br/>(Libby March for The Concord Monitor)

    Town Moderator Gary Richardson accepts a plaque from Selectman Jim O'Brien during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Richardson has served as moderator for 28 years.

    (Libby March for The Concord Monitor)

  • Town Moderator Gary Richardson accepts a plaque from Selectman Jim O'Brien during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Richardson has served as moderator for 28 years.<br/><br/>(Libby March for The Concord Monitor)

    Town Moderator Gary Richardson accepts a plaque from Selectman Jim O'Brien during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Richardson has served as moderator for 28 years.

    (Libby March for The Concord Monitor)

  • Wendy Koch of West Hopkinton, center left, catches up with Joab Owen of Hopkinton during a break between article discussions during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014.<br/><br/>(Libby March for The Concord Monitor)
  • Arthur Bonaceto of Hopkinton listens to discussion about during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014.<br/><br/>(Libby March for The Concord Monitor)
  • Liam Mullen of Hopkinton, 13, adjusts his hat, sitting with Andrew Porter of Weare, 15, while raising funds for robotics club during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014.<br/><br/>(Libby March for The Concord Monitor)
  • Town Moderator Gary Richardson accepts a plaque from Selectman Jim O'Brien during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Richardson has served as moderator for 28 years.<br/><br/>(Libby March for The Concord Monitor)
  • Town Moderator Gary Richardson accepts a plaque from Selectman Jim O'Brien during Hopkinton Town Meeting at Hopkinton High School in Contoocook, N.H. on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Richardson has served as moderator for 28 years.<br/><br/>(Libby March for The Concord Monitor)

Hopkinton residents approved a $3 million renovation to the Contoocook Fire Station that officials say will equip the building to store gear more efficiently, host certification trainings and provide better community medical services.

At town meeting yesterday, the proposal passed, 264-90, well surpassing the necessary two-thirds majority. During a 25-minute discussion, residents asked questions about the energy, building and long-term costs but expressed little dissent.

“There are very few things I agree with the select board about. . . . This one I fully agree with,” said resident Peter Yunich. “This particular expenditure serves the needs of the entire community.”

The renovation will update the station, built in 1974, which no longer meets modern-day standards. Trucks have grown in size and barely fit through the garage doors, there isn’t space to properly store and clean the firefighters’ protective equipment, and there is little privacy to provide medical care, said Jim O’Brien, chairman of the board of selectmen, during a 40-minute presentation on the project.

According to the plan, a second story added to the building will house a new bunk room, locker rooms, administrative space and a training room. A new garage bay will be constructed, and behind it will be gear storage and decontamination rooms. In all, the renovation will almost triple the size of the building from 5,600 to 16,500 square feet.

Once renovated, the goal is for the building to last 40 years, O’Brien said in response to a resident’s question.

The construction will be paid for with a 20-year bond, and there will be no tax effect this year. In 2015, the first year of payment, the tax impact will be an estimated increase of 43 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That amount will decrease each following year.

Jayne Schoch, who has lived in town for 50 years, praised the firefighters’ good work, but said she couldn’t support the cost. “I would like very much for the fire department to have a new facility . . . but this is more money than it should be.”

Now that the proposal has passed, the town will complete plans and begin the construction management bidding process. If everything goes smoothly, the renovation could begin in the spring, said Town Administrator Neal Cass.

During the three-hour meeting, residents also passed a $5.9 million budget with an amendment that added $51,700 to the highway department’s snow removal fund. In the first two months of the year, the department went over budget on salt, sand and overtime treating the roads during storms. The additional money will carry the highway crew through the end of 2014, which includes the first few storms of next winter.

The budget and amendment will raise the tax rate by an estimated 23 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Residents rejected a repeal of the town’s pay by bag garbage disposal program – 159-110 – after a lively debate. Marion Paxton, who introduced the petition article from the floor, questioned the success of the program and its purpose to encourage recycling.

“I think residents in Hopkinton are smart enough to realize recycling is an important activity,” she said.

Several voters asked the selectmen to reconsider how the program works, voicing complaints with the durability of the bags and the need to double-bag trash.

“Fix it, don’t flush it, because it’s working,” said resident Denis Goddard to applause.

It’s the fourth time since the program’s inception that voters have rejected a petitioned proposal to overturn pay by bag.

Voters approved keeping the price of the bags at 75 cents for 13-gallon bags and $1.25 for 33-gallon bags.

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at amorris@cmonitor.com.)

rents for the low income are going up in Contoocook.

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