FALMOUTH — Voters rejected a proposal Tuesday that would have allowed redevelopment of the Plummer-Motz and Lunt elementary schools into a community center and public library.

The vote was 1,938 to 1,777 against the ballot question, said Town Clerk Ellen Planer. Voters also approved two school spending proposals and elected representatives to the Town Council and School Board.

The Plummer-Motz and Lunt elementary schools will soon be vacant because the town has built a new elementary school, which is set to open this fall.

The referendum riled some residents, including one who said he voted against the proposal but declined to give his name.

“We’re spending too much money in this town,” the man said as he left the polls at Falmouth High School. “They’re going crazy.”

The contentious proposal called for converting Motz into a community center, renovating Lunt into a new home for the Falmouth Memorial Library and fixing up Plummer to be leased to a private group or company.

The $5.65 million project would have been financed with $1.5 million from the town’s reserve funds, $1.25 million to be raised by library trustees, and money to be generated from the sale of several town properties, including the current library, the Pleasant Hill Fire Station and land behind the schools.

Supporters said the referendum was a chance of a lifetime to create a “town campus” in a community that lacks a distinct town center. Opponents had a variety of concerns: whether it was an appropriate use of town funds, whether the buildings should be sold, and whether the library needed to double in size.

Mark Eastman also voted against the proposal, in part because he believes the town should use reserve funds only for emergencies.

“In these economic times, I think we’ve got to keep a lid on spending,” Eastman said. “I’m a little bit leery of trying to sell the buildings at this time, but I believe that’s what should be done to promote economic development and put that property on the tax rolls.”

Paul Savidge said he voted in favor of the proposal because he liked the idea of creating a community center and expanding the library.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Savidge said. “It would give young people and seniors a place to gather.”

Laurie and Dennis Daniels also voted in favor, in part because they believe the library needs more space.

“I think a community center is a good idea and there’s no increase in the property taxes,” Dennis Daniels said. “If there is, it won’t happen.”

Voters approved a $26.2 million school budget for 2011-12 and a $1.2 million bond referendum to install a wood boiler at Falmouth Middle School.

In addition, Chris Orestis and Teresa Pierce won a four-way race for two Town Council seats, and Jan Andrews, Analiese Larson and Lucy Tucker won a six-way race for three School Board seats.

 

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: [email protected]