Voters to consider four options for Old Town Hall

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

What do the registered voters of Bridgton want to do with the historic Town Hall on North High Street?

Keep it and maintain it? Raze it and replace it with a more modern structure? Or, close it and disassemble it, but not replace it?

Those are, basically, the main choices that will be decided via a non-binding referendum vote on June 14:

• Option 1 — Complete the basic structural maintenance, building repairs and roof renovations for similar facility uses at an estimated cost of $400,000;

• Option 2 — Complete Option 1 and renovate the exterior siding and roof to meet historical renovation standards which have increased ongoing maintenance based upon the materials used. Uses in the building could be more restricted. Estimated cost — $750,000;

• Option 3 — Disassemble the building and replace it with a modern building for similar facility uses at an estimated cost of between $600,000 and $750,000; or

• Option 4 — Close the Town Hall and disassemble it without replacement, at an estimated cost of between $50,000 and $100,000.

Voters must choose only one of the four options, as to which one they would prefer the Bridgton Board of selectmen to take.

At last year’s annual town meeting, voters were asked, in another non-binding question, if they support spending up to $400,000 to keep the Town Hall from falling into disrepair. Since then, however, further study has showed that necessary improvements and renovations to the historic Town Hall are now estimated to be more than $750,000.

Last month, at their April 12 meeting, the selectmen originally said they would ask voters if they “continue to support the necessary renovations and improvements to the historic Town Hall, which are now estimated to be in excess of $750,000, through a variety of funding options which will also include use of local tax dollars.”

At this week’s selectmen’s meeting, the board held a public hearing on a ballot question that includes the four specific options listed above.

Bear Zaidman asked the selectmen where they had obtained the different estimated costs that are listed on the June 14 ballot.

Alan Manoian, Bridgton’s Director of Economic and Community Development, said the late Fred Potter, a structural engineer, had arrived at the $400,000 amount. Manoian said he came up with the other estimated amounts by using his “professional background.”

Zaidman then asked if the choice made by voters exceeds the estimated amount, who would pay for the overage?

Manoian replied, saying, “We would fundraise for that amount and also seek grants.”

“This is only non-binding,” said Woodward. “We still have to get more figures. There will still be some more steps.”

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