Stonington’s switch to a Saturday annual Town Meeting proved popular if this crowded town meeting house is any indication. Residents, including Lydia MacDonald and her father, Nat Barrows (front left), raise orange cards in support of a warrant article. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

Voters plan for the future at Stonington Town Meeting

STONINGTON — Voters at the annual Town Meeting Saturday looked to the future.

That is to say residents voted to fund several new reserve or savings accounts. They include:

  • $75,000 for a new fire station.
  • $25,000 for a new broadband/internet reserve fund.
  • $25,000 to fund a waterfront access reserve account.
  • $25,000 to establish a sea level rise reserve fund.

It’s early days yet in the planning for the new fire station.

“We have to find some land,” said Stonington Fire Chief Ryan Hayward. “We’d like to find someplace still around town.”

Hayward cited several reasons for the proposed move but the biggest is that the station is located in the flood zone.

The department is located on Hagen Dock just a few feet from the harbor at the eastern end of Main Street.

The size of the station is another issue.

“We’ve kind of outgrown the firehouse size,” the chief said. “The station is kind of small. I’d never be able to get another truck in there.”

Hayward explained that when the current firehouse was built, back in the 1970s, the bays were built to accommodate 10-foot-wide vehicles with the exception of one 12-foot-wide bay.

“The last fire truck we bought back in ’12 or ’13 had to go in through the 12-foot-wide door,” the chief said.

In case you’re wondering about manpower, the department needs more.

“Age is getting the better of all the fire departments around us,” Hayward said. “I joined in ’94 and when I joined it was a big thing. There were a lot of kids that wanted to do it. You don’t have that anymore. It’s hard.”

In related business, former Selectman Chris Betts asked about the sea level rise reserve fund.

“What are we going to do to stop sea level rise?” Betts asked. “What are you doing?”

“We’re establishing this fund,” said Town Manager Kathleen Billings.

The town has gotten a couple of grants and has identified some areas to “establish a few strategies” to deal with sea level rise, Billings said. The fund is a “savings account to steadily start tackling these projects.”

In other business, voters agreed to spend $100,000 to replace the roof on the Island Community Center building, which belongs to the town.

Lydia MacDonald, the center’s board president, thanked residents for their support, which included $13,000 for community center programming and expenses.

Residents, by written ballot, voted to keep additional police patrols — three days a week — from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office for roughly $76,000 a year.

In election news, Selectman Donna Brewer was returned to the board for another three-year term. She ran unopposed. After the Town Meeting, the selectmen voted Brewer to serve as chairwoman again.

For the CSD 13 School Board, Chairwoman Jane Osborne was returned to the board for another three-year term, as was write-in candidate Liz Perez.

Residents elected Tracie Morey to a two-year term on the School Board.

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