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North Yarmouth panel to present development plan

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North Yarmouth panel to present development plan

NORTH YARMOUTH — Having spent recent months brainstorming options for the town in the wake of the Aug. 29 Wescustogo Hall fire, a committee plans to bring a several-pronged proposal to the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, Dec. 17.

The North Yarmouth Economic Development and Sustainability Committee presented five options at an Oct. 17 forum at North Yarmouth Memorial School. The group has since then been digesting feedback for a recommendation for the town.

Wescustogo Hall was a key element in the first phase of the committee's plan for redeveloping the town center, which voters approved in June. But the Aug. 29 fire that destroyed the 1950s-era former Grange hall on Walnut Hill Road forced the panel to re-evaluate its plan.

Town Meeting approved spending more than $150,000 on the first phase of the economic development plan, which called for installation of a sidewalk from the fire barn to Wescustogo Hall, along with a path from the hall to an approximately 70-foot bridge that would span Toddy Brook ravine.

A trail was to lead from there to Town Hall, tying both sides of the town property together with pedestrian access. The thinning of trees near Town Hall was also planned to improve views of that structure from the road.

The new proposal leaves out the bridge, but maintains the sidewalk and thinning. The committee suggests the now-vacant lot where Wescustogo Hall stood be offered to the town's historical society, so that the group could either move the Old Town House there from its spot on Route 9, and use it for meetings and records storage, or raise funds to build a new structure on the site.

The economic development committee also proposed that insurance proceeds from Wescustogo Hall be used to build a new structure, either attached to or near Town Hall, that would function in the same way as Wescustogo Hall, where events like elections, meetings and weddings were held.

"The third recommendation is to move aggressively with privatizing (North Yarmouth Memorial School) once we own it, and to look for the best developer possible to work with that," committee member David Perkins said.

Senior housing is one option that has been suggested for the 1976 school, which is due to close next June. Its students will be moved to an expanded Greely Middle School in Cumberland.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.