Woonsocket Call

Uxbridge: Dog play yea, mosquito spray nay

- By RUSS OLIVO rolivo@woonsocket­call.com

UXBRIDGE – Voters at the annual town meeting on Tuesday approved a $41.4 million operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and laid the administra­tive groundwork for a new offleash dog park, but they said ‘no thanks’ to the state’s invitation to participat­e in a pricey mosquito- eradicatio­n program.

Voters made no changes to Town Manager David Genereux’s proposed budget, which was approved by a majority of the 110 residents who showed up for the meeting at Uxbridge High School – or about one percent of the registered electorate, according to Town Clerk Kelly J. Dumas.

The budget calls for about $826,000 in new spending, an increase of 2.04 percent.

As a percentage of the total budget, municipal spending accounts for about $6.7 million, or 16.1 percent; schools, $22.7 million, or 54.9 percent; and fixed costs, including town-wide employee retirement, Medicare and other insurance coverage, about $12 million, or 29.1 percent.

A few residents debated the merits of buying in to the state’s offer to bombard areas favorable to mosquito-breeding with aerosol pesticides, an issue which has been in the news because of concerns over the Zika virus.

Most experts don’t think there’s much likelihood Zikacarryi­ng mosquitoes will make it this far north to be a problem, and in the end, voters at the financial town meeting didn’t think the eradicatio­n program was worth the price. The state wanted about $71,000 to opt in for the first year of a threeyear program, according to Dumas.

The National Centers for Disease Control says Zika is mainly a concern for pregnant women, or women who are thinking of getting pregnant, who travel to South America, especially Brazil. The virus has been linked to a birth defect known as microcepha­ly, characteri­zed by an abnormally small head. The disease is transmitte­d to humans primarily as a result of being bitten by an infected mosquito, though it’s also possible for Zika to be sexually transmitte­d from men to women.

Health officials say the type of mosquito that carries Zika could migrate to southern U.S. states this season, but it’s unlikely the insects will manage to reach New England before they’re killed off by a seasonal frost this fall.

In another matter, voters approved a new bylaw creating a five-member panel to manage a proposed dog park on Sutton Street.

The town has applied for a grant of up to $250,000 from the Stanton Foundation to fund the design and constructi­on of the dog park.

Under a measure approved by voters, the fivemember Dog Park Committee would have the power to set fees for use of the park, which would require a license from the town. The fees would be used to establish a fund for the operation and maintenanc­e of the park.

The idea to build a townowned dog park came from a group of resident dog lovers headed by Cindy Scott and Uxbridge Police Officer Josiah Morrissett­e, who had been advocating for such a facility since 2013.

In November, the Board of Selectmen approved the committee’s proposal to allow some two acres of a town-owned parcel on Sutton Street to be set aside for the park.

Town officials envision a fenced-in area with watering stations, benches and illuminati­on, with separate areas for older dogs and smaller pets with more pep.

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