FALMOUTH – Voters are likely to be asked in November to support borrowing $4 million to help pay for a new town center at Middle and Lunt roads.

Falmouth’s Community Facilities Planning Committee introduced a plan Monday night to move Town Hall and the public library to the Plummer-Motz/Lunt School campus.

“The committee felt we had an enormous and historic opportunity to do something with this site,” said Cathy Breen, who chairs the committee and the Town Council.

“We are recommending a town center on this site,” Breen said during Monday’s meeting, held in the gym of the Plummer-Motz School.

For more than a year, the committee has done an inventory of town buildings. It has also conducted surveys and held public meetings to gauge what residents feel is important to Falmouth’s future.

The Falmouth Memorial Library and Town Hall are aging and lack space for expansion. Falmouth’s population has grown by 30 percent over the last two decades. Under the committee’s proposal, the library would be in the Lunt Elementary School building. The town hall would be in Plummer-Motz.

Both schools are scheduled to close in September 2011, when a new elementary school opens on Woodville Road. Both buildings would have to be renovated for their new uses.

The existing library and Town Hall, along with the Pleasant Hill fire station, would be sold, with the money offsetting the cost of the town center project. Also, as much as 5 acres of the forested land next to the current elementary schools could be sold to the adjacent Ocean View retirement community.

The town center could include a new community recreation center with features such as a full-size gym, an indoor walking track and a swimming pool.

Monday’s meeting drew a crowd of about 100 people. No one spoke against the town center proposal, and when the audience was asked to vote using electronic keypads, 68 percent said they “liked it very much.”

Online voting will continue for the next two weeks on Falmouth’s Web site.

Town Manager Nathan Poore said the entire project would cost $9.3 million, but he anticipates being able to sell the current library, town hall and fire station to help cover the cost.

Library officials said they can raise $750,000 through a private fundraising campaign to offset the cost of the library’s new home.

Poore said a 20-year bond would add 25.63 cents per $1,000 valuation to the property tax rate.

Breen said the planning committee will refine its proposal before making a final recommendation to the Town Council on May 10.

Councilors will then spend the next several months weighing the proposal’s features before putting the question out for a townwide vote in November. Breen said the council needs voters’ approval for any borrowing over $1 million.

“We felt the sooner we held the referendum, the better,” she said.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]