FALMOUTH – Town officials are weighing the public’s right to know against their desire to negotiate the best deal for the sale or lease of the former Plummer-Motz and Lunt school properties.

The Town Council will meet Wednesday with the town’s attorney, William Plouffe of Drummond Woodsum, to discuss whether proposals the town may receive for the school properties can be kept secret during negotiations.

The town is seeking proposals, due Nov. 29, to buy, lease or redevelop the 20-acre school complex on Lunt Road, which was replaced by the new Falmouth Elementary School on Woodville Road.

“It’s a matter of giving the town the best advantage we can going into negotiations,” said council Chairwoman Teresa Pierce. “There’s a balance between making the work we do transparent to the public and maintaining the town’s ability to negotiate, and there are valid reasons for both.”

The council will discuss whether the proposals must be made public immediately under the state’s Freedom of Access Act or may be kept “confidential” during negotiations, according to the agenda for the 7 p.m. meeting at Town Hall.

The council may decide to keep the proposals secret “if it determines that premature public knowledge would prejudice the competitive or bargaining position of the town,” according to the agenda.

The council has wrestled with the open-meeting law since it decided to put the school complex up for sale or lease in July.

Councilors met privately with representatives of OceanView at Falmouth, the retirement community next to the school complex, immediately after deciding to seek proposals for the town-owned properties.

Councilor Bonny Rodden said the closed-door meeting was inappropriate, but Plouffe said the executive session was legal as long as the council also met secretly with any other interested developers before it formally sought proposals.

Wednesday’s agenda says the council may go into executive session during its meeting with Plouffe to discuss “the legal rights and duties of the town council” or whether “premature public knowledge would place the town at a substantial disadvantage” in negotiations.

Town officials selected CBRE/The Boulos Co. of Portland to market the properties, help review proposals and possibly negotiate a deal.

OceanView is expected to submit a proposal to expand its 60-acre campus.

In addition, more than 20 people attended a scheduled tour of the school properties on Sept. 28, said Theo Holtwijk, the town’s long-range planning director.

“If you get multiple offers for a project like this, it could be very complicated,” Holtwijk said. “This is a little more complicated than buying a box of pencils.”

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: [email protected]


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