HALLOWELL — City residents overwhelmingly approved a $2.36 million bond package during a special referendum election Friday.

There were 563 votes in favor and 355 against, or 61 percent to 39 percent, according to official results provided by City Clerk Dianne Polky.

The controversial, six-component bundle includes $625,000 for next year’s Water Street reconstruction project; $600,000 for infrastructure improvements at Stevens Commons; $535,000 for rural Hallowell road maintenance; $300,000 to improve parking in downtown; $220,000 to restore the fire station’s historic tower; and $80,000 for city building maintenance.

The most-debated component of the bond package was the money earmarked to improve the road network at Stevens Commons. Matt Morrill, the owner and developer of the 54-acre campus just off Winthrop Street, said late Friday he was excited about the next steps for his development and the city.

“It’s so important to recognize and thank everyone that got behind this bond initiative and showed so much forward thinking,” Morrill said via email. “This vote solidifies and proves that Hallowell is open-minded, open for business and looking to the future.”

The City Council unanimously supported the initiative and was engaged throughout the run-up to the vote. Councilor Diano Circo said he was nervous all day Friday but felt relieved when he heard the results.

“I think it’s been a long time coming that the town has needed to make a lot of these investments,” Circo said. “Now it’s our chance to set a foundation for decades into the future.

“It’s really important that we come together and support each other moving forward,” he said.

For City Manager Nate Rudy, the real work will begin Monday. He joked he may enlist the help of an intern because his work schedule for the next four or five months is set.

“We’ve got to finalize our agreements and get to finalizing the design for the new fire station and sign contracts for road work,” Rudy said. “It’s exciting.”

Turnout was robust for a Friday special election in April of a nonpresidential election year, officials said.

Mayor Mark Walker was one of the first to vote — after he brought doughnuts for the poll workers. He was out of state Friday night and didn’t immediately return a text requesting a comment.

Traffic at Hall-Dale Elementary was steady throughout the day. Jett Boyer, 18, skipped part of his government class at Hall-Dale High School to register to vote and vote for the first time. He was at the elementary school before 8 a.m. and was joined by his mother, Randa Boyer.

Becky Havens also registered to vote and cast a ballot for the first time in any election. Havens, a co-owner of Buddy’s Diner who is in her mid-30s, didn’t reveal which way she voted, but she said her decision was made earlier this week after being 50-50 throughout the process.

“I was able to talk to several city officials and had some questions answered,” she said. “It’s how I was able to form an opinion.”

R.J. LaChance, whose parents own Boynton’s Market, said after voting Friday afternoon that lumping the individual components into one question could be a problem in the future.

“I thought that might set a precedent for other ballots down the road,” LaChance said. “I’m not necessarily against the ballot initiatives, but I was against the lumping.”

Betsy Sweet, however, said she thinks the people who were against the bond because of the bundling lost sight of the overall vision for the city, and she said she thinks the national political climate spilled over to the local level.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

 

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