UPDATED: Simsbury voters overwhelmingly approve Meadowood acquisition
By Ted Glanzer
SIMSBURY – Keeping with the theme of the May 4 referendum, voters overwhelmingly passed the acquisition of the Meadowood property, according to the town's website.
The measure passed 3,022 in favor to 439 against. The results of the sixth and final question, which was whether the town would pay $2.5 million of the $6 million price tag for the 288-acre parcel, were delayed as a result of an error with the voting tabulation.
More than 3,000 voters packed the polls Tuesday to cast ballots on six measures at the town’s annual referendum.
The question of whether the town would bond $2.5 million of the $6 million purchase price of the 288-acre property known as Meadowood was a hot-button issue, as the Board of Finance declined to approve to send the measure to voters at the referendum.
An aggressive, lightning-fast petition drive collected enough signatures from registered voters to have the measure included among the six questions on the ballot.
Proponents of the acquisition said it’s a rare opportunity to preserve such a large, historical piece of land as open space. Dr. Martin Luther King once worked the tobacco fields on the property when he was a student.
Those opposed to the measure said acquiring the land would remove the land and potential development from the town’s tax rolls. Others said the purchase would block affordable housing from being constructed on the parcel.
The other five measures: the Board of Selectmen’s 2021-22 budget, the Board of Education's budget 2021-22 budget, the sewer use fund, the sewer improvements and Latimer Lane Elementary School renovation project all passed with overwhelming support from voters.
The Latimer Lane project was the closest vote, with 2,728 in favor and 704 against, or a nearly 4-to-1 margin.
The selectmen’s budget passed 2,947 to 451; the school board’s budget passed 2,922 to 497; the sewer use fund passed 2,988 to 411; the sewer improvements question passed 3,034 to 380.
All numbers are unofficial.
First Selectman Eric Wellman said he was thrilled with the level of participation from voters.
“I’ve never seen this many people come out to a budget referendum,” Wellman said. “It’s just awesome to see so many people participating in the process.”
On Wednesday morning, Wellman offered this update on his Facebook page.
"The following update is being shared through the Town's official communication channels: "The Town of Simsbury has been notified by the Registrars of Voters that the tabulator used at the May 4, 2021 budget referendum did not capture votes cast on Question 6, Meadowood.
At the close of the polls, the election staff verified that questions 1-5 were properly accounted for. The count of the vote was suspended at midnight, and will reconvene this morning at 10:00 a.m. with a bi-partisan team conducting a complete hand count of the Meadowood vote."