HALLOWELL — The City Council on Monday unanimously accepted two large donations that will help shape the city for years to come.

Two weeks ago, an anonymous donor pledged up to $1 million to build a fire station at the Stevens Commons complex, and resident Joan Sturmthal, who’s served on the Hallowell City Council and other city boards, donated $100,000 in support of the Stevens Commons infrastructure component of a proposed bond issue up for a vote this month.

City residents are being asked to vote on a $2.36 million bond package April 28, which includes $600,000 in funding to help fix the roads and sidewalks in the 54-acre Stevens Commons complex. Matt Morrill bought the property a year ago and hopes to turn it into a mixed-use development including affordable senior housing.

Sturmthal, who received a standing ovation after her remarks, told the council that she worked in the Stevens Commons complex when she moved to Hallowell in 1981. She said she enjoyed walking around the campus during her lunch, and for years she and her husband have enjoyed hiking and skiing on the trails and in the big field. She said she imagined all the potential for the city if the property could be improved.

“Now we have that opportunity. I am making this gift to the city because I believe (owner and developer) Matt Morrill has demonstrated the energy, commitment and vision – not to mention the patience – to make the new Stevens Commons plan a reality,” Sturmthal told the council in a prepared statement.

“I hope that my gift inspires residents of Hallowell to support the Stevens Commons project starting by voting for the bond issue on April 28,” she said. “The property already looks better thanks to Matt’s efforts.”

Sturmthal declined to disclose other motives, if any, for the donation besides supporting Morrill’s project.

The fire station donation comes with strings attached, including the council accepting the pledge and agreeing to build a station at Stevens Commons. City Manager Nate Rudy said he’s been working with Morrill since the donor came forward and expects to have an agreement in place before the April 20 deadline put forth in the offer.

“We’ve had two people donate significant funds to the city, and I don’t know how to thank them enough,” Councilor Diano Circo said. “It’s amazing that these two people stepped forward for all of us.”

In other business, the council approved a moratorium that imposes a temporary 180-day ban on recreational marijuana establishments, social clubs and retail stores.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

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