Doors open to new Casco Town Hall
CASCO — As residents doing town business have already noticed, the new Casco Town Hall is open.
If a Casco citizen were to park in front of the old office, it would not be much of an inconvenience. In fact, the drive to the new office is short and seamless — it’s the parking lot 200 feet away. In fact, it might be easier to walk than to re-park.
Many residents know that it took more than a decade to make this new town hall a reality.
“We moved from the temporary building we were in for 11 years to the new office,” Casco Town Manager Dave Morton said.
At this point in time, the town office construction project is under budget, Morton said on Monday.
He estimated that the total cost of $590,000 is about $10,000 less than the amount which voters approved at town meeting a few years ago.
At Town Meeting 2015, residents voted to cap the costs at $600,000. The town acted in the role of the general contractor or GC, allowing costs to be kept lower, Morton said.
There is a slight possibility a small unexpected cost might come the town’s way. The well for the new Town Office might need a water treatment system, Morton said. But, only time will tell, he said.
“We did an initial water test. It’s showing problems with iron in the new well and radon in the new well,” Morton said. “We are not drinking it now.”
The well for the town hall is a new one, drilled this summer. Morton said he was advised by water quality experts to “run the water for a bit and do another test.”
Let’s hope that the town staff remembers to bring plenty of bottled water — they might still be dehydrated from moving day, which lasted about five days.
During the second week of November, the town employees put in several days of labor to make certain everything was running properly in the new building before the doors opened at noon on Monday, Nov. 14.
According to Morton, “It was a long and difficult process,” and one that followed on the heels of a busy Election Day.
The old office was closed for business in early November, on the Wednesday and Thursday after Election Day.
This closure allowed town staff to pack up everything. Also, on Nov. 10, a representative was on hand and the staff received training on the new phone system they would be using.
The moving company showed up on Nov. 11 and began disassembling the office furniture.
“We had movers taking apart the furniture,” Morton said. “The staff worked Saturday and Sunday. They worked over weekend to set up the computers.”
During the first week that the town office was open, there were a few minor hiccups, according to Morton.
“Little hiccups — all ones that were easily corrected. We had to fine-tune the phones a couple times. The heat in my office was regulated in another office,” Morton said, adding the office temperature was sweltering and adjusting the thermostat provided no relief.
“The furnace guy came and in 10 minutes he figured it out,” he said.
The new building has a fire-proof room for tax maps and other documents that the town is required to retain. Most likely, it will take a few months before the documents occupy that room. Currently, the files are stored in the basement of the small town-owned building that is immediately next to the Casco Public Library in the Village. There was not enough room for those files in the temporary office, which is why they had remained in a separate building from town hall.
The moving of maps and documents will take place this winter, Morton said.
Meanwhile, an open house for the public will be held during the month of December. A date has not yet been set for the open house.