Seven months after Gorham residents shot down a plan to turn the former Little Falls School into a public safety headquarters and use the Main Street police and fire station for a community center, town officials are looking at turning that plan around.

The Town Council voted Tuesday to designate the Little Falls School as an activity center and spend $12,000 to determine what repairs are needed on the nearly 60-year-old building.

The council also has started talking about a new plan for its space-squeezed police and fire departments, and the focus is on a renovation and expansion of their current building on Main Street, said Town Manager David Cole.

The latest plan also was considered in 2012, when voters approved a $500,000 bond to make repairs to the former Little Falls School. Those repairs were never completed.

Last June, voters resoundingly rejected an alternative proposal to borrow $6.3 million to renovate the former Little Falls school into a new public safety headquarters. That vote brought the council is back to where it was a year ago.

The council now plans to use $12,000 from the bond approved in the fall of 2012 to study the inadequacies of the Little Falls building, which at least needs a new roof, windows and heating system. Cole said repairs to the building could be done by July.


Repairs later this year could open the door to the return of the senior center and recreation programs, which had been ousted from the aging building.

“It sounds very hopeful,” said Blanche Alexander, president of the Lakes Region Senior Center.

Since September, the group has been meeting at Sunset Ridge Golf Links in Westbrook – a site that’s less convenient both because of its location and the accessibility of the building, Alexander said. Attendance, she said, has dropped.

“We would really be so happy if we could go back to Little Falls,” said Alexander.

She spoke at the meeting Tuesday and said she felt like her comments were well received by the councilors.

Councilors, meanwhile, have a bigger problem on their hands: coming up with a plan for adequate police and fire facilities that the public will support.


Both departments lack enough locker room space to separate male and female employees.

The police department also wants more room for offices and evidence storage. The fire department has vehicles stored outside and needs for more training space.

Councilor Matthew Robinson stressed at a workshop in December the importance of educating the public about the departments’ needs.

Councilor Chairman Michael Phinney said at the workshop that he expected another vote on a public safety building to happen in November, at the earliest.

Cole said Wednesday the council will hold another workshop Jan. 28 to continue the discussion.

“It’s one step at a time,” he said.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: lesliebridgers

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