North Yarmouth ponders potential of town-center properties

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NORTH YARMOUTH — The more than 114 acres of public property in the center of town may be ripe with potential – if the town can figure out how to take advantage of the opportunities.

Next week the Economic Development and Sustainability Committee will lead what is being billed as a “walkabout” to explore these assets, with a goal of finding ways to make the community more vibrant.

The walk is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, and will begin at North Yarmouth Memorial School. Dessert will be provided afterwards.

The committee’s goals include creating a vision for the Village Center, as well as making recommendations to improve it. It also wants to investigate options for the school, in case it is closed in the near future, and to explore ways to use town properties.

“What an amazing piece of real estate the town has,” committee member David Perkins said on Monday. “The major point of the walkabout is to let people really see (it) first-hand and then brainstorm about what we should do with these properties.”

He noted that the Cassidy Pit could be developed as a business park or for a large employer. That site and the nearby Public Works facility make up nearly 66 acres. Other key Village Center properties include the town office and fire and rescue facility, which together occupy nearly 23 acres, as well as the 20-acre school property and the 25-acre town forest.

Perkins noted that the historical society is in an overcrowded space in the fire barn, and that there has been talk of finding a separate place for the organization.

If a task force’s proposal to close the school as a cost-saving measure is approved by the School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors and then North Yarmouth and Cumberland voters, the building would revert to the town, which would decide how it will be used.

“What we want do is get people to realize that this is a critical year for not just deciding the school issue, but for coming up with a larger plan, that we’ve talked about for years but we’ve never done anything about,” Perkins said.

The committee will hold a public forum Oct. 11, and submit recommendations for the town properties on Nov. 6. Those recommendations could go to public vote at the June 2013 Town Meeting.

Information and comments can be submitted to Perkins at [email protected], committee Chairman Al Ahlers ([email protected]), members Andy Walsh ([email protected]) and Katie Murphy ([email protected]), and consultant Gwen Hilton ([email protected]).

Log onto for more information from the committee.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.