On Tuesday, Ellington residents approved two building projects in resounding form.
Residents voted in favor of the $21 million 1,358-554 and in favor of the $2.5 million 1,340-573.
Of the 9,234 registered voters in town, 1,916 came out to the referendum – a total of 20.7 percent.
Sometimes, votes like this can split the public into supporters of the schools, and supporters of the seniors, and the vote goes along those lines. In this case however, the public overwhelmingly supported both projects.
“When I came in and voted this morning, I said to myself, “I’m for the senior center, why should I be against the kids?,” one man said after the results were read.
Everyone went home happy on this night, but none more so than Senior Center Director Erin Graziani.
“I am so grateful,” she said. “What a joy, and a joy for both projects. It’s a blessing, and a positive. I’m so grateful for the schools. We’re moving forward as a team. The community stuck together. Good community! The vote said it all, and that’s wonderful. It’s like a dream come true. We’re moving forward as one – students and seniors together. It says a lot about everyone who lives in town. I’m just so thankful.”
Graziani was also very grateful for all the hard work put in by the Senior Center Steering Committee.
“We couldn’t do it without them,” she said. “Without them, we wouldn’t be this far, so I say thank you to them.”
Sue Hannigan, who is a member of the Senior Center Steering Committee, is incredibly happy for the seniors in town.
“They are so deserving of this,” she said. “I can’t wait until it’s built and they have their new home.”
For First Selectman Maurice Blanchette, this is a culmination of the last 17 years where the town has renovated every one of the schools.
“Not that the cycle is going to stop, but we had a school that was 50 years (old),” he said. “This is terrific.”
The planners of the school project were also incredibly pleased with the results of the referendum. There was also a sense of relief.
“I’m very relieved,” Board of Education Chairman Dan Keune said. “What would I say if it failed? Because really, in my heart, I never believed it would.”
A lot of planning and work went into this project and Keune is proud of the efforts.
“When you look at it, this is probably the best thought out plan we’ve ever done,” he said. “It’s not going to become one of those spider buildings.”
Keune is happy that the project got done for the children.
“You and I go to work, what happens in these buildings, we don’t pay attention to every day, it’s not our job,” he said. “But if we’re not giving these kids what they need, that’s our job.”
He added that there are too many people to thank for the success of this project, but extends his thanks to everyone who helped.
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