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Special Town Meeting and Adjourned Election Korn

Call to the Town of Durham Special Town Meeting and Adjourned Election


CALL TO A SPECIAL TOWN MEETING TOWN OF DURHAM

A SPECIAL TOWN MEETING of the Electors and Citizens qualified to vote at Town Meetings of the Town of Durham will be held in the Julian B. Thayer Auditorium, Coginchaug Regional High School, on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 7:00 p.m., for the following purpose:

1. To discuss the acquisition by the Town of Durham of the former Korn Elementary School building and associated land from Regional School District 13 for the purchase price of $1.00, for a future community center and/or other possible municipal uses, and authorize the Board of Selectmen to do all other things necessary and legally proper to complete this transaction

2. To discuss the transfer of $1,000,000 from #8520068-54300 Facilities Building Projects Reserve to #9520068-57202 CIP Facilities Buildings for Phase 1 of several phases of the renovation of Korn School, pending a May 4, 2021 referendum approval. The entire project, if done at once, was last estimated at $7.1 million in 2018 for costs associated with the former Korn Elementary School Building should the Town decide to accept the same from Regional School District 13, as recommended by the Board of Finance at their April 20, 2021 meeting

Following discussion of items #1 and #2, the meeting shall be adjourned to Tuesday, May 4, 2021 for voting to occur at Coginchaug Regional High School from 8:00 a.m., to 8:00 p.m., on the following questions:

1. Shall the Town acquire the former Francis E. Korn Elementary School building and associated land from Regional School District 13 for the purchase price of $1.00, and authorize the Board of Selectmen to do all other things necessary and legally proper to complete this transaction?

2. Shall the Town transfer $1,000,000 from #8520068-54300 Facilities Building Projects Reserve to #9520068-57202 CIP Facilities Buildings for Phase 1 of several phases of the renovation of Korn School. The entire project, if done at once, was last estimated at $7.1 million in 2018 for costs associated with the former Korn Elementary School Building should the Town decide to accept the same from Regional School District 13, as recommended by the Board of Finance at their April 20, 2021 meeting?

Laura L. Francis, First Selectman
John T. Szewczyk, Selectman
George M. Eames, IV, Selecman

Korn School Referendum Questions and Answers

What are the terms of the offer from the Board of Education?
In a letter dated December 12, 2019, the Board of Education offered to convey the Korn School building to the Town of Durham, “at no cost”, for its use. It was also stated in this letter that if the town did not accept the offer, the Board of Education would consider demolition.

Did the Board of Selectmen vote to bring the offer of Korn School from the Board of Education to the Town Meeting (legislative body)?
No. The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted on March 22, 2021 to decline the offer.

So why is the town going to Special Town Meeting and Referendum now?
Although the Board of Selectmen did not vote to bring the offer to Town Meeting, a petition was circulated, per Town Charter Section 3.1.3, that required the BOS to call a Town Meeting to consider accepting the offer of Korn School.

Per Town Charter, the Town Meeting has the authority to accept the building and the Board of Selectmen has the authority to adjourn the Town Meeting to referendum. The Board of Selectmen voted to adjourn to a referendum

The referendum will be held Tuesday, May 4, 2021 at Coginchaug Regional High School from 6:00 a.m., to 8:00 p.m., on the following questions:
1. Shall the Town acquire the former Francis E. Korn Elementary School building and associated land from Regional School District 13 for the purchase price of $1.00, and authorize the Board of Selectmen to do all other things necessary and legally proper to complete this transaction?
2. Shall the Town transfer $1,000,000 from #8520068-54300 Facilities Building Projects Reserve to #9520068-57202 CIP Facilities Buildings for Phase 1 of several phases of the renovation of Korn School. The entire project, if done at once, was last estimated at $7.1 million in 2018 for costs associated with the former Korn Elementary School Building should the Town decide to accept the same from Regional School District 13, as recommended by the Board of Finance at their April 20, 2021 meeting?

On April 20, 2021, the Board of Selectmen voted with a 2-1 vote to include question #2 and recommended by the Board of Finance at its meeting of April 20, 2021 with a unanimous vote.

Who is eligible to vote?
Durham electors (registered voters) and Property owners with at least $1,000 in assessment on the last completed Grant List 2020. Property owners may only vote on items involving expenditures of money.

Can I vote absentee ballot?
Yes. In addition to regular office hours M-F 8:30am-4:30pm, the Town Clerk will be holding additional office hours on Saturday, May 1, 2021 from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Although, Executive Order # 10E allows for mailing of absentee ballots, due to the very short timeframe, the Town Clerk cannot guarantee the voter will receive the ballot in time. Therefore, it is STRONGLY ADVISED that voters apply in person. Follow the link to Absentee Ballot information on the page What Voters Can Expect at the May Fourth Referendum.

Please note: there are two absentee ballots. One for the RSD13 Referendum and one for the Korn School Referendum

How will the town use Korn School if acquired?
Subject to approval of funding and community choices, it may be used as a Community/Senior Center, Emergency Operations Center, Storage, or for other municipal needs; refer to the 2018 Feasibility Study (follow link to: Korn Feasibility Assessment Committee Feasibility Study for more details.)

How much will the renovations cost?
There will be a new phased in renovation strategy to determine costs at each stage. Each stage would require multiple levels of approvals from the voters including the allocation of additional funds.The Feasibility Study that was used for a “renovate as new” proposal was estimated at $7 million in 2018. (follow link to Korn Feasibility Assessment Committee). Voters did not support this approach.

How many phases will there be?
This would be determined after a complete code compliance review. It would also depend on community choices and funding availability.

Phase 1 priorities:
Determine code compliance priorities, stabilize the building from further decay by updating mechanicals, fire alarm and utilities. As this is a phased in approach, time would be needed for continued research and planning of future phases and to determine funding strategies/sources.

How could future phases of renovations of the building be funded:
Capital budget allocations, reserve allocations, fund balance, bonding, state and fed grants, foundation grants, energy efficiency programs, private donations, subject to any necessary municipal approvals.

If approved at referendum, you are authorizing the Board of Selectmen to:
Seek legal consultation, create legal documentation, survey the property, create maps, seek land use approvals and to do all that is necessary and legally proper to make the transaction complete. 

Notice of Polling Place RELOCATION

Notice of change in polling place. Korn elementary School will NO longer be used for elections. All voting for elections will now take place at Coginchaug Regional High School gym.
Follow the link to the: Polling Place RELOCATION web page for detailed information and map.

What Voters Can Expect at the May 4th Referendum

Voters will also be voting on multiple questions. One RSD13 question (Legal Notice Link) concerning the proposed RSD13 budget and Town of Durham questions (STM Link) regarding the Town acquisition and financing of Korn School. Follow link to Korn School Feasibility Assessment Committee page.

Due to the Governors Executive Orders, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, voters will have the option of voting by absentee ballot. You must complete the absentee ballot APPLICATION in order to receive the absentee BALLOT. The absentee ballot will be issued by request. Please note there is an application for each referenda.
AB Application RSD13 Referendum
AB Application TOD Korn School 

For more information regarding the: May 4th Referenda, absentee ballot applications, voting hours and feasibility study, follow the link to the: What Voters Can Expect at the May Fourth Referendum web page