April 09, 2020

Voters to decide on $2M project in Lincolnville

LINCOLNVILLE – Voters will be asked Nov. 7 to approve a plan to borrow up to $2 million to expand and renovate the town office on Hope Road and build a new fire station at the site.

Several years ago, residents defeated a proposal to spend $400,000 to expand the town office alone, but this proposal addresses several municipal needs, including space for the police department and safety issues at the fire station.

This time, selectmen, the town budget committee and a capital needs committee have endorsed the current proposal, which calls for expanding the existing town office with a single-story addition to the rear of the property. The completed building, which would retain the current town office structure, would be about 11,850 square feet.

“It’s something that’s sorely needed,” Bob Plausse, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said Friday.

After the defeat of the last proposal, selectmen created and charged the Lincolnville municipal building committee with studying the town’s existing municipal facilities. The committee completed a two-year evaluation, including contracting work by Lewis + Malm Architecture, and concluded both the town office and fire station, which is now at 209 Main St., were inadequate.

In a brochure arguing in favor of approval of the borrowing, the town notes that the fire station has:

. Inadequate and unsafe clear space between trucks.

. Inadequate ventilation for truck exhaust.

. Inadequate storage for equipment.

. No indoor training area.

. Structurally unsound roof.

“I don’t call their building safe,” Plausse said of the town’s volunteer firefighters. In addition to providing more modern facilities, the fire station would be located adjacent to a needed bay for the town police cruiser, and the Police Department’s offices.

Also, a central facility would make use of economies of scale, he argued, with the building using the same well and septic system, and sharing a meeting room.

Though the town office is in good shape, officials argue the town has outgrown it. Its shortcomings, they say, include:

. Inaccessibility to the disabled.

. Inadequate space for basic office equipment.

. Inadequate space for storing town records.

. No confidentiality for residents meeting with police officers, the code officer or the town administrator.

An artist’s conception of the project shows two wings extending from the rear of the existing office, with roof lines perpendicular to the present building. The fire station would have its doors facing to the side of the structure, with access by a new paved area.

Plausse said the town owns about 20 acres on the site, and so has room to grow. The new building, if approved, is expected to serve the town for 20 to 25 years, he said.

The total project cost is estimated at $2.2 million, but Plausse said selectmen hope to use some funds already set aside for capital improvements, and perhaps seek grants.

The town is debt-free, he said.

On a house valued at $100,000, the additional tax burden for the 20-year loan would be $53, Plausse said. Selectmen also hope a favorable building climate would result in a competitive bid.

If approved, final design work would be completed and the project put out to bid. Construction would begin in the spring, with completion slated for the spring of 2008.

Plausse said that if the proposal is approved, the town hopes to sell the old fire station, perhaps landing a business that fits with the neighborhood. Sale funds would be applied to the building project, thereby reducing the amount needed to borrow.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said of the project. “This is the time to do it.”

Voting is at the town office from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7.

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