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Lincoln leaders reject $1.5M garage proposal

Posted Oct. 26, 2010, at 9:41 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:28 a.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — Town leaders have sent a slimmer $1.51 million Public Works Department garage proposal back to the committee that helped create it with an order: Cut more from it.

The Town Council’s review Monday night of the proposal, which was criticized by town business leaders seven days before as being too expensive, included councilors individually naming the price they thought the town should pay for a new garage at the request of building committee member Shaun Drinkwater.

Although Councilors Rod Carr and Samuel Clay passed on the question and council Chairman Steve Clay said he was confused at taxpayers’ mixed signals over the issue, the rest said the garage should come in at $750,000 to $900,000, officials said.

“I honestly don’t know which direction to go, because the other building was voted down,” Steve Clay said after the meeting. He was referring to voters rejecting building a garage for $675,000 by 1,175 to 1,117 in 2008.

Town Manager Lisa Goodwin also was directed to seek residents with garage expertise to join the next committee meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 4, she said.

Thomas Gardner of the logging company W.T. Gardner & Sons Inc.; Peter Lyons of Lincoln Color Center and Lincoln’s Sears outlet; Mark L. Helsor of Mark L. Helsor & Sons contractors; Brian Souers of Treeline Inc. trucking; and Heidi Stevens, who owns the town’s Subway restaurant, were among the entrepreneurs who questioned the garage’s price Oct. 18.

Gardner owns a similar garage at his business’s location in Chester, while Helsor builds garages. Helsor offered on Monday night to build a garage and lease it to the town.

Goodwin declined to say whom she would ask to join the committee. The new garage will replace an existing garage on Park Avenue that councilors have long agreed has needed replacement.

On Oct. 18, the entrepreneurs agreed that the proposed design was excellent, a new garage overdue and the workers who would use it exemplary, but said the price proposed at that time, $2.4 million, was too much to pay given the tax burdens they already have.

The building’s designers, Ames Associates of Bangor, followed committee guidelines, Drinkwater has said.

By itself, the building proposed Oct. 18 would cost about $1.7 million. Public building code requirements, contractor and architect fees, items that town workers thought would greatly improve efficiency — an oil-changing pit and a crane, for example — renovating the old garage as storage space and about $300,000 in site work drove the price to more than $2 million, Ames designers have said.

The design offered Monday was cut down to $1.51 million in total cost by eliminating several features. The designers cut one bay and 2,000 square feet; heating from another bay; all paving around the building; an 8-foot concrete apron; the demolition of the old garage; and what they called “incidental items” — lockers and walk-off mats.

“The above program will give the town its greatest value for the buck and hopefully will be understood as well worth [the investment],” architect Ellen Angel wrote in a letter detailing the latest changes.

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