SOUTH PORTLAND – The current options for City Hall are moving to 100 Waterman Drive or staying put on Cottage Road.

The City Council focused on those two possibilities during a workshop Monday and asked City Manager James Gailey to provide additional information. Councilors let the other two possibilities — converting Mahoney Middle School and constructing a new building in the back parking lot of the current City Hall — fall by the wayside.

The actual cost of relocating to 100 Waterman Drive is not yet known.

Gailey has estimated the cost of putting in flooring, ceilings and the other features at $1.2 million for three floors and $1.6 million for four floors. In addition, removing a stair shaft to add space would cost an estimated $17,000 and moving would cost about $28,380.

But Gailey said he does not know the purchase price because he has not been directed to enter into negotiations. The listing prices for a floor in the building, which has been vacant since its completion in 2008, range from $1.28 million to $1.44 million.

The workshop drew about a dozen residents who were vocal in their opposition to a new City Hall. Much of the criticism centered on spending money in difficult economic times and the need to focus on renovations to South Portland High School. School officials are hoping to put a $44.2 million borrowing proposal for the high school project before voters in November.

“I think there’s going to be real taxpayer rebellion,” William Arnold said. “It’s a hard time for a lot of people. It’s not a good time for undertaking this.”

Betsy Parsons said she is taken aback whenever she sees the poor condition of the high school.

“I just think we need to keep our priorities straight,” she said.

Greg Lewis criticized 100 Waterman Drive on a number of counts — including its proximity to the sewage treatment plant and its boxy shape.

Some councilors stressed that while they ranked taking care of City Hall as their No. 2 municipal capital improvement project, that did not mean that they were unconcerned about the high school.

“I heard you, I think everyone else heard you,” Councilor Maxine Beecher said. “I hope you understand that we also have a responsibility to plan ahead, whether we do City Hall in five years, 10 years or two years — if Santa Claus comes.”


Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]