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Requests for capital funding in Amherst total $10.9 million 

The Joint Capital Planning Commission recently started the process of hearing from departments about their needs for one-time and ongoing purchases.

The initial spreadsheets provided by Finance Director Sanford “Sandy” Pooler show $10.6 million in available money and $10.9 million in requests. The bulk of this money would be available only if the town moves forward with an $8 million bond to begin designing and building a new fire station in South Amherst.

The spending also includes $500,000 in state chapter 90 highway money that will be targeted for roads and $144,000 for purchasing ambulance-related equipment.

Just $1.27 million is expected to be available for other purchases, with only 7 percent of the tax levy going toward these.

Town Clerk Sandra Burgess put out a capital request for $9,000 to purchase the GEMS central tabulating system in which the town would get a laptop, software, licensing and a two-year warranty to more easily get votes computed.

The GEMS is compatible with the Accu-Vote electronic optical-scanning system machines the town has used at elections since 2001 and should improve the timeliness of getting vote data to the town’s website, Burgess said.

The current process has town clerk workers going to the 10 precincts, where tape printouts are made, and then returning to Town Hall, where the data is manually input. The GEMS system would allow this data to immediately be uploaded, Burgess said.

“This is the final step. It would bring it all together for us,” Burgess said.

Leisure Services and Supplemental Education Director Linda Chalfant said the department’s highest priority is getting two shade structures for those using the full-size pool and wading pool at Mill River, at a cost of $20,000.

“This is a safety issue in our eyes,” Chalfant said. “If it keeps patrons away, that’s the opposite of what we want to happen.”

After War Memorial Pool was renovated and reopened last summer, Chalfant said many came to appreciate its shade structure.

She is also asking for $10,000 for new lifeguard chairs to replace ones that are 40 years old.

“Our chairs are rickety, rigid, and difficult to sit in for hours under the sun,” Chalfant said.

LSSE is again seeking a rough mower for Cherry Hill Golf Course, which would be bought over three years at $12,500 payments each year. The course currently uses a decade old landscaping machine that was bought as a stop-gap measure and periodically breaks down.

“When we can’t cut the grass, golfers can’t find their golf balls and get annoyed at us,” said John Coelho, superintendent at Cherry Hill.

Mark Miville, sports and recreation director for LSSE, said a $32,451 groomer and equipment is needed for the numerous ballfields used by adult and youth baseball and softball. It would improve fields and get them ready, especially after a rain storm, he said.

LSSE cares for nine fields, including three at Fort River School, two at Groff Park and the middle school and one each at Kiwanis Park and Community Field.

This would also be used early in morning at Cherry Hill for its bunkers.

Many of the capital requests are regular and ongoing, including $321,000 for Information Technology for town and $166,400 for school technology, $105,000 to purchase three new police cruisers and $150,000 for a combination dump and sander truck for the Department of Public Works.

There are also new requests, such as $70,000 for five CPR assist devices for fire department and $25,000 for roof repairs at the Jones Library

Schools requests include $400,000 for boiler room replacement at Wildwood School and $150,000 for new school security.

The committee will continue to review requests prior to making its recommendations in either March or April.

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