HOPE, Maine — Town Administrator Jon Duke quickly rapped his fist against wood in the new town office once the too-good-to-be-true words slipped out of his mouth: “We are under budget and on time.”
The renovated town office will open Tuesday. The displaced town employees have been working out of the fire station for months now while the 1930s town office was renovated.
On Friday afternoon, the employees hefted boxes out of moving trailers and brought them inside.
“We could not be happier,” Duke said.
The building isn’t pretty from the outside. It’s still wrapped in Tyvek paper, and unused two-by-fours make a little paddock around the unfinished handicapped accessibility ramp — but the inside is just about done.
Before voters approved spending $295,000 to renovate the building, the town office was disjointed, the product of its history as a four-room schoolhouse and having undergone several additions in its lifetime.
Now walls of light blue and gray inside and clean new carpets look like something out of a catalog.
The renovated offices have space for Duke, the town’s secretaries and assessor, and a map room. The library will be across the hall and has newly polished wood floors. There are now a meeting room and a conference room. The vaults for vital records have been expanded.
The town will keep its new propane heating system in the attic to save space and soon will pull the huge old oil tanks out of the basement.
The construction crew blasted through concrete walls, leaving eerie ragged arches, to open up space to be used for for storage. The basement now houses the remains of a school — an American flag and tiny desks are among the construction workers’ sawdust and lumber.
“When this was a school the cement wall separated the boys from the girls. It was effective until now,” Duke joked.
The town is planning an opening ceremony but formal plans have not yet been solidified. Meanwhile, people around town keep poking their heads into the new building.
“People have a lot of investment in this building. They want to see money spent wisely and that it looks nice. I think people will be happy,” Duke said.