"I would say this is a mandate," Mayor Adam Salina said after the votes were totaled in the Berlin High School renovate as new project.
The "Yes" votes totaled 3,942 while the "No" votes totaled just 2,314 votes.
The referendum drew more than 47 percent of registered voters to the polls, an unprecedented number for a referendum vote.
It was a crushing defeat for those opposed to the project, which failed to move ahead last year by a mere 131 votes.
The vote was a simple "Yes" or "No" ballot.
"Shall the $69,950,000 appropriation and bond issuance authorization for the renovation and expansion of Berlin High School (expected to be paid from an estimated $22,621,830 State grant and $47,328,170 from Town general obligation bonds) as adopted by ordinance of the Town Council, be approved?"
The "Yes" votes even beat the "No" votes in the absentee ballots 131-107.
"I'd also like to thank Mr. Argazzi for getting out those absentee ballots because that was another big win for us," Salina said. "This is a huge step up a long road to having a new high school. I thank everyone who worked for this and got out the vote. This has been a long journey to build a great facility, to maintain our property values, to make Berlin High School a place we can be proud of and so we can live a long time in this community we love."
Argazzi, a former Mayor in Berlin, asked for 3,000 absentee ballot applications and along with a note from the Berlin Republican Town Committee, mailed the applications to residents in town. The note on BRTC letterhead urged residents to vote "No."
"I would like to think that this is a message to the Berlin Republican Town Committee that they can't just be obstructionists and simply say 'no' to everything and never have an idea or suggestion to help move this town forward," Salina said. "It should be a wake-up call to them that this is not leadership.
"This vote should give Berlin a renewed sense of pride. We all knew the poor condition the school is in. It was embarrassing. Now that we can move forward and make this building healthy again, we can get a little pride back. We should be proud that this town cared enough about this project and was proud enough of this town to come out and vote like they did."
The mood was optimistic early at the headquarters of "Yes for Berlin" on Farmington Ave. The roars grew louder each time new results from polling places would be written on the wall.
When the totals from the Senior Center were called, 702 "Yes" to "476 "No" Board of Education President Gary Brochu said "It's over." Though it was only the second polling place to be called in, Brochu said the last renovation project lost at the Senior Center by 115 votes. This time the "Yes" vote won by 226 votes at the Senior Center.
The closest polling place was the American Legion where "Yes" won 458-345.
Art Powers, Democratic Mayor of Berlin 1959 to 1979, worked with "Yes for Berlin" in the weeks approaching the referendum.
"I think it's marvelous," Powers said. "I thought it would pass but you never know. If it didn't pass I think it would been deep trouble for this town for years to come with people and businesses leaving town. The schools are essential to quality of life in any town.
"When I was Mayor, we built Hubbard and Willard within a year of each other and we also built Town Hall and Timberlin and that was all within 15 years. It was different politically back then. I had a number of Deputy Mayors, including Bob Argazzi, who worked together with us. We would argue but in the end they didn't care what was right politically, they were worried about what was right for the town.
"I am just disgusted with the Republicans and their lies. What they did was galvanize a community against them. People came out and supported this plan because they didn't want the Republican to lie and scare voters into turning the plan down."