In weak voter turnout, Chester water project passes by 26 votes

Town Clerk Deb Aldrich, Select Board Member Heather Chase, Justice of the Peace Ruthie Douglas and a Cody check the counts for the water project vote.

From left, Town Clerk Deb Aldrich, Select Board member Heather Chase, Justice of the Peace Ruthie Douglas and Cody check the counts for the water project vote. Photo by Shawn Cunningham.

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2015 Telegraph Publishing

By a margin of 112 to 86, Chester voters on Tuesday authorized the town to borrow slightly more than $4 million to upgrade the town water system, adding a second storage tank and replacing a large stretch of asbestos/concrete water main along Route 103 from the Sunoco station to Green Mountain Union High School.

The question was complicated by a number of issues including the purchase of 139 acres of land for a 1-acre tank site, the concept of a town gravel pit on that property, and the ongoing dispute as to whether water users should foot the bill for the work or whether all town taxpayers should share in the cost.

A quick analysis of the voter checklist by The Telegraph estimates that out of a total of 198 votes, 87 were cast by water users, while 111 were cast by those not connected to the system.

Because of a procedural glitch in warning the article, this vote can preserve Chester’s position for low interest borrowing from the Vermont State Drinking Water Fund, but later this year, a town vote will have to be held to ratify the May 19 tally.

In the meantime, a number of the questions on residents minds can be reviewed by the Select Board. And the project can still be altered as the town moves forward. For coverage of Monday night’s informational meeting, please click here.

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