In Hopkinton, road repairs and a new lottery game approved by town meeting voters 

  • Hopkinton resident Steve Trafton asks about what is going on with Briar Hill Road as the town discusses article 3 at the town meeting on Saturday morning in the Hopkinton High gym. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Denise and Marcel Leblanc discuss the warrant articles on Saturday morning at their first Hopkinton town meeting since moving from Concord. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/18/2023 7:10:18 PM

It’s hard to believe that a drive down Briar Hill Road in Hopkinton – a patchwork of pavement and gravel, with potholes sprinkled throughout – is actually driving down a road, residents say.

On Saturday morning, the three-mile-long stretch was at the center of debate, as residents approved a $2 million bond for road rehabilitation at this year’s town meeting.

“I’m Kevin Connally, and I live on what’s left of Briar Hill Road,” he said as he took to the microphone in support of the bond. “I have to tell you: The roads are crumbling, and I applaud your effort to repair them.”

Briar Hill Road will be the first priority for repairs. But poor road conditions aren’t just a problem there – Hopkinton has $20 million worth of road repairs that need to be completed.

This $2 million dollar bond will certainly help, but it will only make a dent in the necessary repairs the town needs to undertake in upcoming years, said Thomas Lipoma, a member of the select board.

For residents in Hopkinton, roads in town are so poor that perhaps it’s become a hallmark of the town, they joked.

“I know that I could blindfold the select board, take them out of town and when they hit the town road, they’ll know where we are,” said Clark Kidder, who lives on Carriage Lane.

This is the third road bond that residents have approved in the last few years. What’s different this time is the cost of materials needed for repairs. In the last year, gravel and asphalt cost have increased by almost 30%, according to Lipoma.

Voters also approved an operating budget of $9.2 million. Unsurprisingly, road maintenance was one of the driving forces behind a 10.8% increase.

A new source of revenue will also be coming to Hopkinton – Keno 603 lottery machines. Voters approved the spot-number lottery game to be played in licensed stores.

Benefits for businesses to host Keno machines could include increased sales. Plus, there is a statewide advantage to funding lottery games, according to KJ Cleland, the chief product and program officer at New Hampshire Lottery – since 1964, the state lottery has raised over $2 billion for education funding.

But not all of this funding supports public schools, said Kimberly Rizzo Saunders, the ConVal superintendent who lives in town. Lottery revenue funds the state Education Trust Fund – which has primarily supported charter schools and school choice vouchers, said Saunders.

“The money that is going into this education trust fund is not going to lower your obligation for public schools,” she told the 200 residents at Saturday’s town meeting. “Nothing will happen, except you will continue the degradation of our public school systems.”

Resident Dave Feller urged voters to focus on the local issue at hand – whether or not to approve Keno – rather than statewide politics of education funding.

“I don’t disagree with some of the comments that have been made about funding education … but this article has nothing to do with funding education,” he said. “This is about supporting our economic development in town.”

Voters approved all 17 questions on the ballot, including authorizing the select board to set the pay-by-bag price for trash and to lease a town-owned hydro dam, among other items.

With 246 residents out of the 4,608 registered voters attending Saturday’s meeting at Hopkinton Middle High School, Saunders encouraged the select board members to consider a charter or alternative methods to voting for future town meetings.

“I love our town meetings but the time may have come and gone, and we are disenfranchising a large piece of our population. There are 5,000 people who are old enough to vote, and there are less than 300 people in this room,” she said. “There are people who cannot be here today, and I know many of them, because they have to choose between going to work and being here.”

Ballot voting for town officers and zoning amendments will take place on March 28, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hopkinton Middle High School Gymnasium on 297 Park Ave., Contoocook.


Michaela Towfighi is a Report for America corps member covering the Two New Hampshires for the Monitor. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in public policy and journalism and media studies in 2022. At Duke she covered education, COVID-19, the 2020 election and helped edit stories about the Durham County Courthouse for The 9th Street Journal and the triangle area's alt-weekly Indy Week. Her story about a family grappling with a delayed trial for a fatal car accident in Concord won first place in Duke’s Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism. Towfighi is an American expat who calls London, England, home despite being born in Boston.

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