At Town Meeting, many of Dover’s warned articles passed without a great deal of discussion, including general fund expenditures for operational expenses ($2,204,674.73), highway fund expenditures for operational expenses ($1,383,843.52), appropriations for the capital equipment fund ($250,000), the capital building improvement fund ($80,000), and support of SeVEDS ($3,372).
The town’s capital paving fund appropriation ($650,000) led to some discussion, but ultimately passed. Most discussion centered around clarification of the approaches the highway department is taking on paving and drainage projects.
Article 20, which pertained to an appropriation for MHCA Dover Cinema, spurred discussion on the floor, with many residents expressing a desire to give the theater more support than it has asked for. Historically, the theater has asked for an amount equal to its property taxes, which this year was $5,161.25.
At last week’s pre-Town Meeting, Dover resident Charles LaFiura questioned whether the requested amount was too low. At that time, it was suggested to LaFiura that he could propose an amendment to the article at Town Meeting so as to appropriate more funds.
At Town Meeting, LaFiura requested that Facilla come prepared with specific financial information next year.
“I think this facility is extremely important to the valley,” said LaFiura. “Some day I would like to see it be competitive with the Weston Playhouse. I would like to suggest to the board that in the future, for the next annual meeting, we have before us a capital budget to get the facility to where it will be competitive to Weston.”
La Fiura said that without that information, he was not prepared to make the aforementioned amendment, but that he would like to in the future.
Several other residents stood to express their support for MHCA Dover Cinema, citing it as an asset to the town. Dover Economic Development Director Ken Black said he has had “more than one conversation” about how the town’s economic development funds could be used to help MHCA Dover Cinema.
Wayne Estey, who has been appointed assistant zoning administrator and will eventually replace current zoning administrator Dave Cerchio, also spoke about MHCA Dover Cinema’s worth.
“I’m a professional economist,” said Estey. “This theater is what an economist would call a comparative advantage. It is a unique part of Dover and it brings people from other parts of the state to Dover. Comparatively, nobody else has this facility. This is a very minimal amount of support.”
Dover resident and Deerfield Valley News publisher Randy Capitani urged Facilla to consider the next steps for MHCA Dover Cinema.
“You guys need to come up with some planning on what you’re intending to do,” said Capitani. “People are ready for you to go to the next level. I think you should listen to that. I think you should get together with your board and come up with some plans. Bring it to Town Meeting next year. I think there are people ready to help you in this community. Or as Ken said, go to the economic development office and talk to them. Because I think people really would like to see that.”
In other news, after special permission was granted to give non-voters the floor, fourth-graders from the Dover School proposed that the town consider changing its official seal, saying the current seal is “ordinary and unattractive.”
While the current seal simply says “official seal” in the center, the new proposed seal shows a pine tree with snowflakes around it, which the students suggested would better represent the character of the town.
In a nonbinding motion, residents voted to support the idea of changing the seal based on the students’ recommendation.
Though some heavy decisions were to be made in Dover on Tuesday, particularly with a proposed school district merger under Act 46 on the table, Town Meeting, like many meetings in Dover, had expressions of support and gratitude woven throughout it.
The room broke out into applause several times, most notably in a standing ovation for Linda Holland, who is retiring from the selectboard after 10 years of service.
Acknowledgements of retiring zoning administrator Cerchio, retiring economic development director Black, retiring school board member Chip Vicary, and current school board chair and town moderator Rich Werner were also met with enthusiastic applause.