GARLAND, Maine — Local residents voted at the annual town meeting Saturday to sell the former elementary school and the property it sits on, but the decision didn’t come easily, according to a town official.
The town took possession of the school in September and a grant was obtained by the Garland Days School Transition Committee, chaired by Nancy Towle, to do a feasibility study to determine the costs to bring the building up to code, according to Selectman Norman Nugent.
From that study, several options were presented to residents Saturday. The cost to bring it up to code, relocate the town office into the former school and use the multipurpose room for community functions was pegged at $390,000. A second option was to bring it up to code and use it as a community center at a cost of $161,000. The remaining options were to sell it or demolish the building.
Some residents spoke in support of keeping the building and funding the improvements with grant money, Nugent said Tuesday. The majority of the residents, however, did not favor paying additional tax dollars to keep the building heated for however long it might take to get a grant and they voted to sell the structure, he said. The sale will not affect the ball field located next to the school; that will remain town property, he said.
Another contentious subject at the meeting was a proposal to contract with a tax assessor’s agent, which was voted down, Nugent said. Currently the town has a three-member board of assessors, but one of the assessors recently resigned and another has not been active, he noted. Selectmen had received a proposal from a Penquis firm that would have conducted the work at the same cost the town now pays the three-member board, and the firm would have held office hours, which is not now the case, he said.
The following were elected to office: Robert Marquis as selectman; Andrea Rollins as school board member; and Lois Jones and Lisa Dearborn as tax assessors.