August 8, 2012

Some councilors in Gorham hesitant on renovations plan

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

GORHAM — Some town councilors said Tuesday that they wanted more time to consider a plan to renovate two buildings for the police and fire departments before deciding whether to ask residents to vote on it in November.

The council was scheduled to vote Tuesday night on whether to hold a referendum Nov. 6 on spending $5.75 million to turn the former Little Falls school into police headquarters and renovate the public safety building on Main Street for additional space for the fire department.

The council instead voted to ask PDT Architects to consider additional ways to address the departments’ needs, including building a single public safety building for both departments at the Main Street site or the Little Falls site on Acorn Street.

The police and fire departments now operate in the public safety building. The Little Falls school building is used as a community center.

The need for more space for the police and fire departments was first identified by the town in a study in 1999.

The council asked PDT Architects in February to look at turning the former school into a police station. Brian Curley, a principal from PDT, was at Tuesday’s meeting to present the options the firm considered.

Some councilors, however, said they needed a better understanding of the project before deciding whether to send it to voters.

Councilor Matt Mattingly proposed postponing the vote until after a council workshop on the project. His motion was not supported.

Councilor Michael Phinney wanted to postpone the discussion until March, possibly in time for a referendum in June.

Council Chair Brenda Caldwell said she was “very much opposed” to putting off the question much longer.

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