Casco town hall sketch brings forth opinions

NW dd20 ART town hall sketchBy Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — People did not shy away from speaking their minds when it came to where the proposed town hall should be.

The Casco Board of Selectmen — taking the suggestions of residents — voted to address at Town Meeting the issue of budgeting for more detailed sketches and cost estimates.

The next step would be to put a choice of locations on the local ballot during November’s gubernatorial elections. The town hall concept would change depending on the location, and whether it could be a remodel or new construction.

The selectmen were in complete agreement with this plan of action. Their vote took place after a public hearing on the proposed town office.

Seating was almost scarce in the meeting room of the Casco Community Center on Tuesday night.

However, many people commented that the hearing should have been better advertised, and more voices should be heard when it comes to whether or not the town builds a new town office and where that public facility should be located.

The topic of property taxes was brought up several times during the public hearing that preceded the Casco Board of Selectmen meeting. Some comments indicated that Casco residents are likely to be cautious about spending money on a new town office.

“The plan to present a new building for a town office is excessive,” said Sharlene Spauling, who owns a home in the village.

She said with the recent property revaluation and higher tax bills for most property owners, residents might opt to make due instead of building new.

Since private individuals had to stretch their dollar and forego new purchases, perhaps the town should do the same, she said. She said her household kept the same used lawn tractor for a decade, and couldn’t afford a new one when the engine died.

She suggested the town take another look at revamping the bank building.

Some residents took the visionary road — viewing the town office as an opportunity to revitalize the Village District as a community center, or to construct a new building on the current lot using donated supplies and volunteers.

Tom Mulkern said he would rather see the town hall in center of the Village than on the same lot as the Casco Fire Station.

“It needs to come back to the village. (Having the town office there would be) a springboard to future development in the village. I think the bank building is the right building. It can be remodeled, and I don’t think parking is an issue,” Mulkern said.

Several people, including Trevor Tidd, warmed up to the idea of that location — the former TD Bank building next to the public library.

“In my mind the town hall is in the village. Here we are meeting and doing business,” Tidd said.

He said it was important to hear all the opinions of the stakeholders, Casco residents.

“Give us a chance to decide in the future. I hope it is a ballot issue. If you want to hear the voice of the people, have it on the ballot in November when most people vote,” Tidd said.

Selectman Ray Grant supported the idea of revamping the current town office — that was designed as storage for the fire department. He said an expansion would be less expensive, and heat pumps could be an economical way to heat the building.

Selectman Tracy Kimball preferred the fire station lot over the bank building revamp.

“I don’t think the village is the right space to expand the town office. If you are going to bring businesses, you need businesses,” she said.

“I think having the town hall next to fire station is more central,” Kimball said.

Town Manager Dave Morton said that “Pike’s Corner,” the fire station parcel near the intersection of Route 11 and Route 121 was one location that gained a consensus with residents.

It might not be everyone’s first choice, but it was the spot that the majority of people could agree upon, he said.

Also, Morton said people were indeed able to better conceptualize construction of a new building or remodel project — if they had sketches and cost estimates.

Rick Thorpe said a list of concrete numbers for various projects is what town’s people need to see.

“Everyone who works in, has been in, the closet that we call a town office agrees — it’s small,” Thorpe said.

“Nobody wants to pay more taxes.

Nobody wants to take responsibility for raising property taxes,” he said.

Following Thorpe’s comments, another audience member advocated for researching all the options so people could view the costs on paper.

To view the public hearing in its entirety, go to Lake Region Television website, www.lakeregiontv.org or access the recent broadcast from the Town of Casco webpage, http://cascomaine.org/

 

 

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