Main Street in Downtown Camden. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

CAMDEN, Maine — Camden voters approved a $2.8 million energy project aimed at making town-owned buildings more efficient.

At a drive-in style town meeting Monday night, 131 voted to enter into a contract with Siemens Industry Inc., which will oversee upgrades of the buildings. Thirty-four voted against the project.

Town officials say the project could result in about $1 million in energy savings in less than 20 years.

Town-owned sites slated for improvements include the Camden Opera House, the Camden Snow Bowl and the Camden Public Library, as well as the town’s public safety, public works and wastewater department buildings.

The project will replace outdated heating and cooling systems. Buildings will be better sealed from the elements and upgraded LED lighting systems will be installed.

While the project is focusing on energy efficiency, Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell said other long-needed improvements — such as replacing the Camden Opera House roof — also will be addressed through its comprehensive plan.

To finance the project, the town will issue a $2,336,000 bond with an interest rate of less than 2.5 percent. The total cost of the project will be about $2.8 million including interest over its 17-year repayment period.

Monday’s drive-in style town meeting was a first for Camden. The town held the meeting at the Camden Snow Bowl in order to comply with pandemic gathering restrictions.

The meeting was broadcasted over FM radio, which voters tuned into while parked in their cars. If an attendee had a comment or question, they flashed their headlights to receive a microphone.

Despite the cold temperatures and wind blowing down from Ragged Mountain, Camden Town Clerk Katrina Oakes said the meeting went well.

“It was very different, but it went really well. There were no technical difficulties. We were all patting ourselves on the back this morning,” Oakes said.