MILBRIDGE, Maine — To build, or not to build?
The Milbridge Board of Selectmen will decide at a 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, meeting whetherthe town should submit an application for a $300,000 federal Community Development Block Grant that would fund half of the cost of a new town office and library facility.
Town offices, the Police Department and the ambulance service now are based in a circa 1900 building that was once the town’s high school. The building is shared with the community’s library, which is shoehorned into an addition built more than 50 years ago.
After months of design considerations and cost estimates, what’s now being proposed is a one-story, 4,800-square-foot building estimated to cost $600,000. The library would account for 1,400 square feet of that space.
Those opposed to the project claim the existing town office building and the adjacent town hall building are historic and should be preserved. That’s a position not supported by Kirk Mahoney, a deputy state historic preservation officer for the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. He said in an April 2011 finding that neither building is “historic,” as defined by federal historic preservation standards.
Milbridge Town Manager Lewis Pinkham said Friday the budgetary stars now are aligned so that the town’s obligation of $300,000 would not increase local property taxes, given an $80,000 building reserve fund, savings realized through refinancing an earlier project and current low interest rates. Also helping to foot the bill are the annual earnings of a library endowment of more than $100,000, Pinkham said.
“We’ve spent a lot of time determining how to get this done without increasing taxes,” Pinkham said.
Should Pinkham receive authorization on Saturday to pursue the grant, a special town meeting will be held within the next few weeks to solicit community support of the project.