Casco Town Hall concept heads to voters

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — The current Casco Town Office has town employees there at least 40 hours a week when really it should be a facility that only houses town documents, not people.

At least, that was the original intention.

“It was designed to be storage unit with garage doors,” Town Manager Dave Morton said.

The checklist of issues with the small, temporary town office has grown longer.

Recent testing reveals that the building has radon issues. Also, the manner in which one-of-a-kind documents are stored is in violation of state law. Morton said, adding that has been the case for six or seven years now. Such records are supposed to be in fireproof containers, he said.

There is no room for conferences or for private discussions, particularly social assistance interviews, unless people vacate the space that does double-duty as the employee lunch room, Morton said.

On Tuesday night, the Casco Board of Selectmen saw the first rough sketches of a proposed town office building. The engineering sketches were provided by Sebago Technics.

The board decided, through a unanimous vote, to put the matter before the residents at Casco Town Meeting in June.

“I could rattle on about this for quite a bit,” Morton said as he changed the topic to what is wrong about the town office building to what could be built.

“This is still a good time for the town to consider our financial position. In terms of borrowing money and getting a good deal for construction, now is a good time,” he said.

“We have $70,000 in long-term debt, which we will pay off this year,” he said.

His recommendations for the proposed town office were to bond the project over a 15-year period. Although he had not nailed down the numbers yet, Morton estimated an annual payment between $80,000 and $120,000 depending on the final project. That is, if it is approved by Casco voters.

He told the board that the cost could range between $750,000 and $950,000, and that depends on what type of heating is installed.

The most logical place for the proposed town hall is on the piece of property where the current one exists alongside the Casco Fire Station. The existing town office building would remain as a storage unit.

The proposed building would be modest in size; and residents would still use the Casco Community Center for meetings and town-related gatherings, he said.

Local resident Lynne Potter said Casco could draw on the experience of people from the Town of Dayton, where an energy-efficient town office was constructed.

“Their town hall was built with donated supplies, and the labor was donated. They had people who couldn’t do construction work cooking the meals,” she said, adding the food for workers was supplied by local grocers.

Building supplies such as lumber and sheetrock were also among the donated items, she said.

“This can be done. Anyone who is opposed to a new town hall because we cannot afford it, you should put your efforts toward hammering a nail,” Potter said.

 

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