March 11, 2010

Shopping center, schools top agenda

DENNIS HOEY

— By

Staff Writer

Falmouth voters will have plenty of choices when they go to the polls June 9 to elect two town councilors.

Four candidates are in the mix for two Town Council seats, including incumbents William Armitage and Joseph Wrobleski, who are both completing their first term in office.

Armitage and Wrobleski will be challenged by newcomer Mark C. Soule and a political figure from Falmouth's past, former town Councilor Fred W. Chase, who served on the council in the early 1970s.

The candidates agree that whoever is elected will need to address several issues.

Chief among them: expansion of the Falmouth shopping center on Route 1, and dealing with the disposition of the Plummer-Motz and Lunt elementary schools, which will become vacant once a new elementary school is constructed.

Soule, a lifelong resident of Falmouth, said he would provide the town with a conservative voice on the council, an official who will scrutinize the cost of a project to ensure it meets the community need.

''I can provide a simple, common-sense point of view when it comes to assessing the financial impact of a project,'' he said.

Soule, who is a member of the Community Facilities Planning Committee, said it would seem to make sense for the town to renovate the elementary schools and to convert the Lunt Road property where they are located into a town center -- a proposal that might involve moving the town hall and library into the schools.

''I'd like to see the town hang on to those schools if it makes (fiscal) sense,'' Soule said.

Armitage, the council chairman, has lived in Falmouth for 14 years.

A Maine native, he grew up in Cape Elizabeth.

Armitage served on the town's Workforce Housing Committee before joining the council, an effort designed to provide affordable housing for workers such as new teachers and public safety personnel.

He said the greatest challenge facing Falmouth may be finding a way to balance economic development with protecting the environment.

Armitage said the town has gone to great lengths to preserve open space, but it must also find a way to stimulate economic growth -- especially at the shopping center where the former Shaws supermarket space remains empty.

''I believe you can have managed growth within your town as well as environmental protection. They are not mutually exclusive goals,'' Armitage added.

''My position all along has been about maintaining and finding a balance.''

It has been 36 years since Chase served on the Town Council, but the lifelong resident said he hopes his candidacy will inspire others to seek public office.

He attended the Plummer-Motz School when it was the town high school and would oppose any effort to tear it down.

''It might seem a little far out that I am willing to do this at 71 years old, but I am doing it to energize other people into running,'' Chase said.

Chase said his knowledge of the town and its affairs should be considered by voters when they go to the polls.

''I know every woodchuck hole in town,'' added Chase, who points out his construction and development background -- he built four town subdivisions -- would prove valuable to the council.

As chairman of the Town Council's Community Development Committee, Wrobleski recognizes the economic importance of the Falmouth Shopping Center to the community.

For the last year or so, his committee has been meeting with a developer who wants to find a tenant for the vacant Shaws supermarket and who has expressed interest in expanding the shopping center.

A design charette to explore what that area should look like will be held this fall.

''What happens there is one of the most important things the council will face in the next three years,'' Wrobleski said.

''I think we should be careful about what we do on Route 1. We need to stay focused on how Route 1 develops. Keeping it walkable and aesthestically pleasing are very important.''

Wrobleski said he has been instrumental in the passage of several initiatives, from bringing curbside recycling to Falmouth to guiding land use planning in his post as chair of the Community Development Committee.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

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Mark Soule, a candidate for a seat on the Falmouth Town Council.

click image to enlarge

William Armitage, candidate for Falmouth Town Council

 


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