FALMOUTH — Town councilors on Monday unanimously approved spending more than $600,000 for Town Hall renovations, but decided there should be more opportunities for public discussion before they decide whether to put a $2.8 million library bond on the November ballot.

Councilors spent nearly half of their approximately three-hour meeting discussing the language of the proposed Nov. 4 referendum question and development of a memorandum of understanding with the Falmouth Memorial Library for a proposed expansion.

A portion of the discussion was spent on bond order, conditioned on library fundraising, that would allow $400,000 of bond proceeds to go to engineering and design costs.

Town Manager Nathan Poore said that figure was just used as a placeholder, since some figure had to be put in the referendum. 

Councilor Russell Anderson said he wasn’t sure what there was to gain by an early release of that much money. He said it was unwise to commit without knowing if the project would even go forward.

Library President Mark Porada said the figure is actually closer to $300,000. He said this would be used for 3-D designs and renderings of the library. He said the closer they are to the final design, the better it will be for fundraising.

Anderson also said the memorandum should have language spelling out what happens if the total project cost comes in less than the estimated $5.6 million. He said the town has committed to a 50 percent share of the renovation cost, and should share in any savings as well.

Chairwoman Karen Farber eventually proposed continuing the discussion at the next council meeting on Aug. 25, with public comment invited. This will be in addition to a public hearing already scheduled for Sept. 8.

Town Hall

The council moved swiftly through the order to approve supplemental appropriations to the next phase of Town Hall renovations, which will include insulation, carpet replacement, new tables and chairs for the dining area, and several other items.

Town Manager Nathan Poore said, despite initially asking for more than $646,000, Phase II will be asking for about $601,000, to be moved from the unassigned fund balance.

Councilor Claudia King made the motion to move the funds , and the motion passed unanimously.

In other business:

• After a public hearing on an amendment to the Code of Ordinances to change the organizational structure of the Harbor/Waterfront Committee, the council referred the item, which regards the voting rights of the Portland Yacht Club and Handy Boat, to the appointment committee. The council will hear back in eight weeks.

The issue stems from Handy Boat not being able to send a Falmouth resident to vote for the committee. The current Code of Ordinances requires the panel to be made up of seven residents, with one representative each from Handy Boat and Portland Yacht Club. The proposed amendment takes away the residency restriction, adds the representatives as non-voting members, and retains the original seven members.

• Verizon Wireless presented a request for conditional rezoning so it can build a cell tower at 121 Field Road. The council scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 8.

• The council unanimously approved carrying forward $33,000 of unspent funding from fiscal year 2014 to fiscal year 2015. Poore said this was to be used to paint road lines. He said the only reason the lines weren’t painted in 2014 was because of a contractor availability issue.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

filed under: