LINCOLN, Maine — Town leaders might decide on Monday to keep the town office in its present Main Street location, move it to a heavily-renovated Ballard Hill Community Center or open a new building a developer has offered to construct on a vacant Fleming Street lot.
The special Town Council meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday. Residents are invited. The meeting is likely to end with one of the three proposals selected, council Chairman Steve Clay said.
“This is a very big decision for the town,” Clay said Thursday. “It will affect the town for many years to come.”
Town leaders have tried to vacate the Masonic building off and on since 2004. They sought bids previously, in 2007. An effort to include it in an apartment building at West Broadway and Main Street collapsed in 2008. Previous efforts failed because of fears about the costs involved.
None of the proposals will have an impact on local tax rates. Town officials will use money set aside in the Tax Increment Financing deal with the Rollins wind project. That fund has about $400,000, Clay said.
According to documents town officials provided, developer Sterling Osgood proposed to build a new 6,000-square-foot town office at 32 Fleming St. Developer Mark Helsor offered to convert Ballard Hill to a town office. Local Masonic Lodge President Byron Sanderson proposed to have the town purchase the present town office for $1, lease part of it to the masons, and both would agree on renovations the three-story office might need.
Under Osgood’s proposal, the town would lease at $6,348 per month with an option to buy after 20 years a 6,000-square-foot, single-story building he would build on the vacant lot. That building would be more than triple the size of the present town office, which town officials have said is cramped, lacks record storage space, adequate disability access and public restrooms.
Osgood said in his 10-page proposal that the building would have plenty of parking and could be available by February 2015 with a decision made soon.
Helsor proposed renovating Ballard Hill Community Center as a new town office, saying that the approximately 10,000-square-foot renovation would require extensive work but would answer all town needs. His proposal includes 36 renovations, including new entry door systems, a new elevator, sprinkler systems, bathrooms, ceilings, roofing, heating and electrical systems.
He proposed a 15-year lease to own program at $6,850 per month for the first five years. The town would pay $7,104 for the next five; and $7,358 for the last five, according to his proposal.
Sanderson’s proposal gives no dollar figures. The lease price would be determined after the renovations cost analysis occurs, although as part of the agreement, the Masons would lease the third floor of the building in perpetuity.
The council met last week in executive session to discuss the three proposals, Clay said. The council is taking up the matter because as part of the town’s ontract with the masons, it gave three year’s notice in 2012 that the town might vacate the premises, Clay said.
If all goes well, the town would occupy the new town office, or renovate the old, in 2015, Clay said.