Tucker road design, park upgrades approved at Fall Town Meeting

Oct 18, 2022

Plans to realign Tucker Road can now take their first steps toward becoming reality, voters decided at the first in-person Fall Town Meeting since 2019.

It was a quick meeting on Oct. 18, as members approved all 12 articles on the warrant in less than an hour at the Dartmouth High auditorium.

“This group usually works pretty efficiently,” said Town Moderator Melissa Haskell.

Among notable items was approximately $4.9 million in capital improvement projects, which included $150,000 toward a design to realign Tucker Road with Hathaway Road — something town officials have been requesting for years.

The full project could cost up to $2 million because of the required land takings, the bulk of which involve commercial properties near Route 6.

Additionally, there was an appropriation of $150,000 toward designs to reconstruct Hawthorn Street.

Other capital plan expenditures include $210,000 toward upgrading telephone and intercom systems in the town’s public schools, $18,000 for rear doors at Town Hall, and new vehicles for the Department of Public Works.

The highest expenditure from the plan was $1,34,086 toward requests from the Department of Parks and Recreation, which included $300,000 to repair the department’s Allen Street garage and $535,000 toward design and engineering costs to update the roadway at Round Hill Beach.

“That entire road needs to be redone,” Parks and Recreation director Tim Lancaster said after members noted the constant flooding the bottom of the road sees after significant rainfall.

Voters also approved using $512,086 in surplus funds to replace and upgrade the playground at the Dartmouth Regional Park on Old Fall River Road — the only playground in the north part of town. 

This capital plan appropriation would cover half of the replacement cost. The other half was approved earlier in the meeting under the requests from the Community Preservation Committee. 

Another notable community preservation article included appropriating $22,700 toward expanding the Dartmouth Heritage Trail project — a bike path consisting of stops at informational kiosks around town highlighting Dartmouth history. There are currently eight Heritage Trail kiosks installed in town: Bliss Corner, Padanaram, Apponagansett Park, Round Hill, Russell Mills, Bakerville, Hixville and Smith Mills. 

Howard Baker-Smith, the chairperson of the Community Preservation Committee, said this expansion would add two new kiosks: one at Lincoln Park and one at Paskamansett Park.

Voters also approved the establishment of a stabilization fund for money the town will receive as part of a national lawsuit it entered last year against drug distributors Cardinal, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids.

The Town of Dartmouth will receive more than $1.1 million in cumulative payments over 16 years as part of a statewide settlement with opioid distributors and manufacturers. Recently, the town received its first check, which amounted to $40,211.53. 

That check, which had been in the general fund, was placed into the stabilization fund in the following warrant article.

Proceeds of the legal settlement will be directed to confront the opioid crisis through prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery programs. Where any funding will go will be determined through collaboration with the town's various departments, Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes said.

A full replay of Fall Town Meeting can be viewed online via Dartmouth Community Television’s YouTube page.