Westport IOC thinks small following Route 6 vote's failure

Some Infrastructure Oversight Committee members said they should break $35 million plan into smaller sub-projects

By Ted Hayes
Posted 4/23/24

pic: route 6

Following its failure at the polls, the town board that developed the Route 6 project is planning the next step for the project.





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Westport IOC thinks small following Route 6 vote's failure

Some Infrastructure Oversight Committee members said they should break $35 million plan into smaller sub-projects


The Westport board that developed the Route 6 water and sewer proposal is regrouping following its failure at the polls earlier this month, and could endorse breaking the $35 million project into three separately funded projects.

Voters on Tuesday, April 9 rejected a debt exclusion question that, had it passed, would have given voters the opportunity to decide at next month’s Town Meeting whether they wanted to appropriate up to $35 million to bring modern and sewer service to the Route 6 corridor.

Though the debt exclusion question failing at the polls, an appropriation question will still be on the Town Meeting warrant. If it passes, the town would likely hold a special election at a later date to ask voters again to approve a debt exclusion.

Last week, some members of the Infrastructure Oversight Committee said they believe the project could be more palatable to voters if broken into three projects, as it was originally envisioned before a vote earlier this year to lump all three into one project.

“The smaller piece has a better chance” of passing at Town Meeting,” IOC chairman and select board vice chairman Steve Ouellette said at a meeting last Wednesday. “If they shoot down the smaller piece then yeah, we’re not looking good. We’ve got to get the word out; we’ve got to do our homework.”

The all-or-nothing funding approach was one of the reasons six of nine Finance Committee members recently voted to not recommend the $35 million appropriation warrant article at next month’s Town Meeting. Though some initially supported it in its three-phase structure, the switch to a larger inclusive project proved to be too much, fincom chairwoman Karen Raus said prior to the Tuesday, April 9 vote:

"This is the second most significant project the town has ever incurred and we’re looking at it like it’s nothing," she said. "We’ve gone at lightning speed for $35 million and nobody slows down to think about it.”

IOC members plan to meet with fincom members this week to talk about the project and discuss the next step. Said Ouellette:

Members "gave the indication that they'd be much more supportive it was only the (first phase, expected to cost $8 million) and it wasn't expansive. So we have some hope there that at least we can get a couple more votes."

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