Casco tallies Memorial School poll

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — The results of the Memorial School questionnaire arrived — via courier — during a Casco Board of Selectmen workshop.

Earlier during the workshop, Town Manager Dave Morton apologized for not having results from a recent poll — a questionnaire sent last month to each household from a mailing list for all the property taxpayers in Casco. He explained that the town office has been short staffed; and nobody has been able to break away from daily duties to tally the hundreds of responses that were delivered there.

But, about 20 minutes later, the newly hired Code Enforcement Officer, Don Murphy, arrived at the meeting with the desired numbers.

“These are hot off the press,” Morton announced.

The question posed in the mass-mailing poll, asked residents if they would be willing to spend up to $750,000 on the Memorial School, regardless of whether the preference was to remodel or demolish and rebuild on the town-owned property.

An answer of  “yes” was in favor of spending the money; and “no” meant spend nothing on the building and land, he said.

The results were: 188 people said yes to the expenditure, while 379 residents leaned toward not spending the money or not doing anything to the Casco Memorial School, Morton told the board.

Selectman Paul Edes momentarily misunderstood the questionnaire results as a public demand to move forward with salvaging the school. He said the town should produce some floor-plan sketches as quickly as possible.

“No, financially, right now, they don’t want to pay for either one of those options,” Selectman Ray Grant summarized.

Morton agreed, “My initial reaction is that people don’t want to do either.”

“The option may be to talk to the fire department and make it a fire training opportunity. Or, we could tarp it over for another year,” Morton said.

He added current issues like wild animal droppings and mold won’t need to be addressed if the structure is used for burn training. However, hazardous material like asbestos would require removal by professionals — at a cost to the town, Morton said.

Later, he told the selectmen that because they “just got the raw numbers” they might want to wait before deciding the next phase in the life of the Memorial School.

As stated by Morton, the questionnaire is not a binding vote like a ballot item would be. The poll was sent to residents so the board could get a better idea how willing residents were to take on the fiscal responsibility for fixing the Memorial School.

When the board moved to its regular meeting, the general consensus was for the elected public officials to wait and digest the most recent public poll before making a final decision about the Memorial School.  The next selectmen’s meeting is April 17.

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