By George BrennanMay 02. 2016 11:20PM
SANDWICH – Voters rejected the use of $1.1 million in community preservation funds to renovate the Clark-Haddad Memorial Building, formerly the Sand Hill School.
The project received a majority vote of 148-110, but not the two-thirds required.
The building, named for two Sandwich men who died during World War I, has been vacant since the Sandwich school administration moved out in 2007. It’s been a target of vandals since and has fallen into disrepair.
Town groups hoped to use it as a community center.
“What we need is something that is a more reasonable cost and a more accessible space,” said Joanne Westerhouse, a member of several clubs including the Sandwich Arts Alliance.
Resident Steve Barr questioned the overall cost of the project. “Am I the only one who thinks this is excessive?” he asked.
Voter Carl Johansen urged the town to sell the property because it will need future upkeep, as well. “This particular building has been neglected by the town,” he said. “Historically speaking, we do not have a good track record maintaining (buildings).”
Robert King, a member of several town boards, pointed out the town already voted not to sell the property.
“There were people who wanted to dispose of this property and this body said no,” Selectman Patrick Ellis said.
What the town will do with it now remains to be seen. Town meeting has sent mixed messages.
A motion to reconsider, after dozens of voters left the room, failed and prompted about 15 minutes of back and forth about whether that was “dirty pool.”
A short time later, voters approved turning over another old building to the control of the town as of July 2017. Care and custody of the Henry T. Wing School, which was closed as a school a year ago, was turned over to the Board of Selectmen from the School Committee.
Town voters also approved spending $1.2 million in community preservation funds to repair Lower Shawme Pond dam, the Dexter Grist Mill and surrounding properties.
“This project is long overdue,” voter Carl Johansen said.
Community preservation funds are generated from a 3 percent surcharge on property taxes. The funds can be used for open space, historic preservation, and affordable housing.
Repairs to a historic cemetery at $70,000 and $20,000 for the Thornton W. Burgess Green Briar Jam Kitchen were also approved, though the jam kitchen did generate some debate about whether funds should go to a private nonprofit organization.