GORHAM — The Town Council decided Tuesday night to approve the purchase of two house lots in Gorham’s commercial center to help ease a longtime parking crunch for businesses near the intersection of routes 25 and 114.

The council voted unanimously to buy the property at 21 Main St. for $169,900 and the property at 10 Preble St. for $239,900. Combined, the lots cover less than half an acre.

Town Manager David Cole said the town wants to demolish the houses on the lots and build municipal parking lots, but there’s no specific plan, design or timetable.

Responding to questions from Preble Street residents who attended the meeting, councilors spoke cryptically about opportunities that purchasing the lots would provide.

Councilor Matthew Robinson said buying the land would be a step toward fulfilling the town’s vision for the area.

“We are making decisions to affect the future of the village,” said Councilor Matt Mattingly.

Cole said after the meeting that the purchase of the lots, which nearly back into each other but are not adjacent, could open up talks with nearby property owners to create a larger parking area.

He said councilors have long searched for a solution to Gorham’s downtown parking problem, which is worst for businesses on Route 114 to the north of the intersection, across Route 25 from the properties the town plans to buy.

A few years ago, Cole said, the council rejected a proposal to create parking spaces next to the Robie Gym, on a town-owned lot next to 10 Preble St.

Some residents attended Tuesday’s meeting because they had heard rumors that the town was interested in buying their neighbor’s property.

The meeting’s agenda said only that the council would meet privately about “the potential acquisition of real estate” and possibly vote on buying land.

“None of us would ever think about living next door to a parking lot,” Kathy Kigin told the council.

“We don’t want anything that’s going to add to the noise, pollution and traffic on Preble Street,” she said.

Keith Lynds said he hopes the council will keep neighbors informed and seek their input about any project in the area.

Councilors told the residents that real estate transactions are negotiated behind closed doors, but what happens next on the property will be discussed in public.

If the town cannot come up with a plan for the properties, it could sell them, Cole said.

 

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: [email protected]