Saco Main Street and some of the Shuttlebus-ZOOM staff plan to move into offices at the Saco train station next month. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

SACO — Plans are in the works for local community group Saco Main Street and part of Shuttlebus-ZOOM to move next month into empty office space at the Saco train station.

The city owned train station at 138 Main St. was constructed in 2008 and includes office space that was originally used by the Biddeford + Saco Chamber of Commerce + Industry. After the chamber left to move into an office in Biddeford in 2014, the city rented the space to an accounting firm.

The office space in the train station was recently vacated, and the city is negotiating agreements with Shuttlebus-ZOOM and Saco Main Street.,

Shuttlebus-ZOOM provides bus service to riders between Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Scarborough, and Portland with offices at 13 Pomerleau St. in Biddeford.

The bus service, which receives $165,000 a year from Saco, Biddeford and Old Orchard Beach and $25,000 a year from Scarborough, plans to move part of its staff to the train station as part of a roll-out of a new bus schedule.

The bus service will be revamping its bus schedules to a more efficient design that will better serve it riders. All local buses will circle back to the train station every 60 to 75 minutes, said Shuttlebus Executive Director Tony Scavuzzo.

Under the plan, buses will park along the perimeter of the parking lot in front of the train station, with a plan designed to have the least impact as possible on the parking lot, said Scavuzzo.

“It will help showcase public transportation when people see all the buses together,” he said.

With electric buses in Shuttlebus’ future, there are plans to install electric charging stations on the property.

Some Shuttlebus staff will be located at the train station during standard business hours, which will give the bus service more a public presence and will make it more accessible to the community.

Saco Main Street is a non-profit which promotes economic development in the city’s downtown and will receive $71,000 of funding from the City of Saco this year. Saco Main Street currently has an office at 209 Main St., in a room behind the organization’s ice cream shop, Saco Scoop.

Saco Main Street Executive Director Rob Biggs said the current office space is cramped and much of it s used for storage. Biggs said when the office moves to the train station, the former office will be used as storage, and the Saco Scoop will operate as usual at its current location.

Biggs said when the office is located in the train station, Saco Main Street will help increase the train station’s presence as a local information center for people getting on and off the train, and will work with the train station volunteers who greet passengers and assist them with the train ticket kiosk.

The city council authorized City Administrator Kevin Sutherland on Monday night to enter into lease agreements with the two organizations, though rent has not been finalized.

An initial proposal had the combined rent at about $2,000 a month. A few council members balked at the amount and there was general consensus among the Council that the city should charge the two organizations much less.

The council, under Councilor Alan Minthorn’s suggestion, gave its consensus that it would like the city to consider a year-long lease charging Shuttlebus and Saco Main Street a total of $500 a month to cover expenses, and then revisit it when the year was up after a city had a better idea of what the expenses were.

“I’m a little concerned that we’ve got two organizations that we fund and then we’re charging them rent, too,” said Minthorn. “There’s something wrong with that. We’re giving it with one hand and taking it back with the other.”

Minthorn said both Shuttlebus and Saco Main Street benefit the city by what they contribute, and this should be factored in as well.

“I agree wholeheartedly with Councilor Minthorn,” said Councilor William Doyle. He said the city had earlier this year invited the Chamber to move back to the space for free, though the Chamber did not want the space. Doyle said if the city was to offer the chamber for free, it should do the same for the these two organizations as well.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be reached at 780-9015 or by email at [email protected].

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