The First Parish Congregational Church in Gorham is asking for more time to raise money to pay the cost of reinstalling and maintaining an historic clock that has been absent from its steeple since 2006.

The town, which owns the clock, had agreed to lease it to the church, where it had been in the steeple for 138 years before being removed for repairs. Under that agreement, the church was supposed to have the clock reinstalled by March 30.

However, with the clock still at the shop where it was repaired, Balzer Family Clock Works in Freeport, the church has not raised enough money to pay for the reinstallation, according to Mark Faunce, the moderator at the First Parish Congregational Church. He said the church has raised $62,000, and he believes an additional $15,000 will be necessary.

“Six months should put us over the top,” Faunce said.

The council will consider the matter at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 1, in its meeting at the Gorham Municipal Center.

Town Manager David Cole said Tuesday the town has a contract with Balzer for $38,000 to restore the clock. He said the town has paid about $20,000 so far with the remainder due when the clock is reinstalled.

Where the clock should be reinstalled was the subject of much debate last year, after a few town councilors said they favored reinstallation of the clock at the Gorham Municipal Center. The move to put it at the Municipal Center failed in a 3-3 vote, with town councilor Brenda Caldwell, who was a secretary at the church at the time, recusing herself from the vote.

A Gorham couple, John and Rose Phinney, agreed to donate the $38,000 cost of repairing the clock to the church so that the church could reimburse the town for the cost of repairs. Their donation resolved the dilemma and paved the way for the clock agreement with the church. The Phinney donation is included in the $62,000 the church has raised.

Since that split Town Council vote, Caldwell has stepped down from her position at the church, and two new town councilors have been elected – Matt Robinson and Phil Csoros.

Town Council Chairman Burleigh Loveitt, Cole, and Town Councilor Mike Phinney, John and Rose Phinney’s son, met recently with Faunce, Rev. David Butler, and other church representatives to discuss the situation.

“I thought the meeting was cooperative,” Cole said.

Faunce said an endowment fund is also being established to provide maintenance and insurance for the clock. Civic groups and residents wishing to contribute should call the church at 839-6751.


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