Falmouth continues to explore options for reuse of school buildings

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FALMOUTH — The Community Facilities Planning Committee last week presented preliminary designs demonstrating how space for several municipal buildings could be accommodated in the Lunt and Plummer-Motz school buildings.

Guided by input from a community planning project last March, the committee hired Oak Point Associates to design a series of diagrams that show how an expanded Falmouth Memorial Library might fit into Lunt School, Town Hall into the Plummer building and Community Services into the Motz wing.

Prior to the meeting, the committee met with the library board to determine if its needs still require an expanded building. While the board was unanimous in its desire to have more space, some trustees would like it to remain in its current location, committee Chairwoman Cathy Breen said during Monday’s Town Council meeting.

Because the school buildings will be vacated once a new elementary school is completed the end of 2011, the town has started investigating its options for the space, which includes the two buildings on 21 acres of land.

The committee has hired a firm to appraise the library, schools site, Town Hall and Pleasant Hill Fire Station. It has also asked the architects to more forward with design work.

Town Manager Nathan Poore said Tuesday that the committee should start to have some figures within the next three months, with the appraisals possibly as early as the end of the year.

Another piece to the planning puzzle is the role of OceanView retirement community in the development of the schools site. For more than a year, the development, which abuts the schools, has expressed interest in a “public-private” partnership with the town. One of the retirement community’s suggestions is for the town to use the buildings while selling much of the surrounding land to OceanView for expansion, which would provide revenue to the town by putting that portion of the property back on the tax rolls.

At last week’s meeting, the facilities committee decided to meet with OceanView representatives on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. The meeting will include a presentation and possibly designs from the retirement community, Poore said.

At last winter’s community forum, residents were asked their vision of the property’s future and the future of the municipal buildings. Seventy-two percent of the 140 people who attended said they would like town offices at the schools site, 79 percent would like the library at the site and 77 percent would like an inter-generational recreation and community center.

Once the committee has gathered more information, it plans to hold another community meeting, with a target date of spring 2010, Poore said.

Before any decisions can be made regarding major expenditures, the town would be required to put a referendum on the ballot, he said. The committee is focusing on having something ready for November 2010, but before residents can vote, the council must approve the plans.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.