More than three out of four residents who cast ballots for Wellesley’s Dec. 1 Special Election voted in favor of funding a multimillion renovation of the Middle School. The WMS debt exclusion question was the only item on the ballot.
Just 23% of registered voters cast ballots, according to the unofficial results (hand-counted ballots will be added by Dec. 3). That’s a shade short of the 90% who turned out for the Nov. 3 Presidential election.
The fact that two voters cast ballots without voting Yes or No was puzzling.
4,155 citizens showed up to vote on a single question ballot- a debt exclusion to make renovations to the middle school. 2 of those voters blanked the race. Why show up? #YouHadOneJob #votingfail https://t.co/Q9dwx3rITl
— Tom Ahern (@tomahern) December 2, 2020
The Dec. 1 Special Election focused on a debt exclusion to fund renovations designed to extend the life of Wellesley Middle School by 25 years.
The ballot question was worded:
Shall the Town of Wellesley be allowed to exempt from the provisions of proposition two and one-half, so-called, the amounts required to pay for the bonds issued in order to provide construction funds, architectural and engineering services, construction administration, project management, and any associated costs related to the novation of the Middle School Building Systems located at 50 Kingsbury Street to accommodate the classroom and/or administrative needs of the School Department and/or other educational needs of the Town, and for any other services in connection therewith?
As for how much this $12M-plus project will cost you on your tax bill: For properties worth $1,158,000 (current median Wellesley home value), annual property taxes would increase by about $164 in the first year, then fall from there over a period of 10 years. The increase would begin in July 2021.
The building systems project, based on a design scheme developed over the past year, involves replacement of heating and ventilation units in the gyms, kitchen, and auditorium, plus an overall kitchen renovation (note that the kitchen serves both WMS and the elementary schools). Air conditioning is also planned for the auditorium, which as anyone who has attend a WMS graduation can attest, is needed. Classroom improvements, security updates, exterior fixes and sustainability improvements are big parts of the project, too.
WMS was constructed in 1950 as a junior high school. Major building additions were made in 1958 and 1966 (this is when the Kingsbury wings were added).