Naples selectmen talk about tourist center for future

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

NAPLES – The new site of the Naples’ tourist information center is historical.

This summer, it will be housed in the white Museum building near the town offices and U.S. Post Office.

The timeline for having a renovated space ready for seasonal staff was a concern for Barbara Clark, the executive director of the Sebago Lakes Chamber of Commerce, operating in Windham.

On Tuesday, Clark appeared before the Naples Board of Selectmen to get a better timeframe for when the space would be finished. The subject had come up briefly during a selectmen meeting earlier this month; and Clark was doing her own information gathering about the town’s information-center site.

She explained to selectmen that she is in charge of staffing for the satellite visitors’ center in Naples. She said she needed a date for the opening because she would be tasked with creating the informational magazine for the Lake Region.

“It’s easy to change our web page. That’d take less than five minutes,” Clark said.

She said it would be harder to change the chamber’s summertime publications – which will number in the thousands, inform people of the hours and location of Naples Information Center, and will be required to be completed at the end of March so it can “go to the printers,” she said.

Clark asked about an opening date for the center.

“We’re hoping for a spring opening,” Selectman Rick Paraschak answered.

Selectman Christine Powers clarified why the project didn’t have a set date yet.

“Like so many things, this is weather dependent,” Powers said.

In order to preserve the Museum building and revamp the space, a better foundation would have to be provided, Paraschak said.

“We’re going to put it on a new foundation,” he said.

Paraschak said the building is sitting on a concrete foundation, which isn’t good for older materials. He had talked to someone in the community who is familiar with the historical structure. The building would fare better if it was sitting directly on wood, he said.

“The front of the old building will look the same,” he said.

No longer in use will be the former Naples Information Center building, which was located in a structure overlooking Route 302. For the past 18 summers, the town-owned brick building has been the location for the information center, Clark said. In fact, office furniture and region-wide brochures are over-wintering in the building – and those will have to be moved to the Museum, which is maintained by the Historical Society.

“In a world of consolidating and sharing services, we’ve talked about instead of staffing two buildings, we’ll staff one building,” Paraschak said of the town’s decision to house the information center at a single site.

There is money in the account to cover revamping the historical building, which was the town’s original fire station, according to Town Manager Derik Goodine.

In the near future, the selectmen will be going through a design-build bidding process to select a contractor for the job.

Tuesday’s discussion about the visitors-center move was not on the agenda. Clark arrived at the meeting and spoke during public participation time.

The selectmen did not conduct any business because there was no quorum for a vote. Only selectmen Powers and Paraschak were present.

Also, the board decided not to consult the town attorney via teleconference — not without more board members available. Therefore, the pre-scheduled executive sessions were also cancelled.

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