NORTH SMITHFIELD – A question authorizing the town of North Smithfield to take out an $18 million bond for construction of a new police station was summarily rejected by town voters in a Special Election on Tuesday, Nov. 7, with 62.4 percent casting ballots against the plan.
The results, released by the Board of Elections after polls closed, did not yet include mail ballots, but the decisive majority left little doubt Tuesday night of the final outcome. Some 1,643 residents rejected the project, with 992 voting to approve the referendum.
The voter decision follows years of discussion and deliberation on how to address the outdated and structurally deficient former schoolhouse on Smithfield Road that currently serves as the North Smithfield Police Department headquarters.
It comes despite efforts over the past few weeks to build support for the project that included erection of lawn signs, advertising and reports of flyers placed in residents’ mailboxes.
Council President Kimberly Alves and Councilor Paulette Hamilton, meanwhile, made an attempt in September to remove the question from the ballot, citing concerns about unclear language and the potential for a low voter turnout at the special election. The board voted back in May to include language citing possible renovation of the facility, despite design plans focused fully on new construction, and testimony by some that the building could not be brought to modern standards.
The two councilors recently advocated for rejection of the referendum.
Council members have repeatedly stated that there is no backup plan for the station in place in the event the bond was rejected.
Update: With mail ballots tallied later Tuesday night, 61.6 percent of voters had rejected the question with a vote of 1,715 to 1,071.