Forecaster Forum: North Yarmouth panel seeks public's input on Wescustogo Hall

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Wescustogo Hall – built in 1959 and once the host of Town Meeting, potluck dinners, contra dances, voting, craft fairs, Boy Scout and Girl Scout meetings, Christmas caroling, and Santa’s annual visit – burned down on Aug. 29, 2013. North Yarmouth residents have felt the loss deeply, no longer having a natural or central place to congregate.

Whether to rebuild was not a question. But questions remain. What will the final design look like? What is needed to maintain the original character, yet provide for multi-function use? Who will it serve?

The town is hard at work to crack this nut.

The Wescustogo Building and Design Committee (Chairman Brian Sites and members Paul Hodgetts, Jennifer Smith, Clark Baston, Stephen Friedrich, Rod Duckworth, Steve Barr, and Darla Hamlin) has been working since February to develop a plan that will address uses and design attributes for North Yarmouth’s future town gathering place. Having met four times, the committee has brainstormed, taken site visits, enjoyed laughs, and heard from experts in construction, fire safety, code enforcement, and town management. It’s a diverse group working towards the common mission of helping the eventual developer and town build the best Wescustogo.

The preliminary work of the group focused on defining the new Wescustogo Hall. Not just what it has been historically, but what it needs to be in the future. We looked at functions and uses, the features and amenities to support those activities, and the structures and system needed to sustain those elements. All this work led us to a lot of questions and a list of experts and stakeholders who might help us bring those pieces together.

On May 26 we will be finalizing this process, with a goal of having a status update to the Board of Selectmen on June 7. This initial document is just a first step in turning conceptual drawings and interior schematics of the new Wescustogo Hall into a reality.

What happens from that point?

We envision a new charge from the Board of Selectman to initiate a design and build process where the whole community can be involved. A homage to the original Grange Hall, when neighbors, friends and family came together in a unified array of efforts to support the funding, the building, and the spirit of the project. A project that will be as meaningful to the children of North Yarmouth 50 years from now, as it was to those who grew up in the original Wescustogo Hall. A symbol of the community, history and commerce that makes North Yarmouth such a special place in all of our hearts.

What do you want to see in the new Wescustogo Hall? Tell us by emailing committee members through the North Yarmouth Town Office, and by liking us on Facebook. Thanks in advance for investing in this exciting project for the future of our town.

Dr. Steven J. Barr of North Yarmouth is a member of the Wescustogo Building and Design Committee.

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