November 8, 2012

Funds set, next step is plan for old school

Gorham officials will name a committee to develop options after voters OK'd borrowing up to $500,000.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The town of Gorham can now borrow as much as $500,000 to make improvements to the former Little Falls School.

But first, officials must figure out what work they want done and what purpose the building should serve.

The Town Council decided to ask residents in a referendum Tuesday whether to borrow the money, but had no plan for how to use it. Fifty-four percent of voters approved the bond.

The Little Falls School, built in 1956, housed the Sebago Educational Alliance for five years before the regional special-education program moved to Buxton last year.

The building on Acorn Street has been considered for a new fire station and, more recently, a new police station.

The council, however, has indicated that it wants to keep the police and fire departments, both of which need more space, at one site. A renovation of the current Public Safety Building on Main Street is now the favored plan.

For the past year, the former school has been home to the new Lakes Region Senior Center and the town recreation department's before- and after-school programs -- both of which have been told to be prepared to move out by June.

The senior center has found a potential new location, at Avesta Housing's senior apartment complex on School Street in Gorham, said Glenn Lynds, the center's president.

But there's no gym for pickleball -- one of the seniors' favorite activities -- and it's farther from Windham, where many members live, he said.

Lynds hopes the council will spend the money approved Tuesday to use the Little Falls building as a community center.

"We think it's a positive sign," he said of the vote.

Town Manager David Cole has said the former school's roof, windows and heating system need repairs.

On Tuesday, the council is scheduled to appoint a building committee to figure out what work will be done, said Cole.

The committee will comprise three councilors and two community members, with Cole and the town's recreation director as non-voting members.

In terms of when the use of the building will be determined, Cole said, "I don't think the council has any hard-and-fast timetable."

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

lbridgers@pressherald.com

 

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