North Yarmouth school redevelopment proposal fails; tie vote in selectman election

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NORTH YARMOUTH — A redevelopment proposal for North Yarmouth Memorial School failed by a wide margin Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Anne Graham won one contested seat on the Board of Selectmen, while Peter Lacy and Jim Moulton tied for the second.

Town Manager Rosemary Roy said Wednesday morning that there will likely be a recount of Lacy’s and Moulton’s votes. If they remain tied, and both candidates still want to serve, another election will probably be held.

The NYMS proposal, endorsed by the Board of Selectmen and submitted by A.H. Grover Co. of North Yarmouth, was defeated 968-360, according to unofficial results.

It included demolishing sections of the 120 Memorial Highway (U.S. Route 9) school building, but preserving the gym and stage area as part of a space of approximately 8,900 square feet.

Grover would have also built a new Wescustogo Hall of approximately 7,800 square feet on an existing foundation and concrete slab, attached to the existing building.

A 30-lot senior housing community was to have been built in several phases and list at $287,000 per unit, with a buffer established between the buildings and the community center. Two commercial lots would also be created.

The town was to retain 10 acres of frontage along Route 9, using Wescustogo insurance proceeds and funds from selling the parcel’s remaining 10 acres to Grover to offset the expense of construction.

The town proposed bonding $500,000 over 10 years to fund the remaining project expenses. Payments were estimated to be $60,000 annually, replacing debt service the town has paid on other infrastructure due for final payment in October.

Rob Wood, a former selectman, was among many residents who opposed the proposal. He felt the town should take a step back, form a master plan, and work from there.

“I was gratified that so many residents came out and voted, and thought about the future of our town,” Wood said Tuesday night. “There’s no them or us, no winner or loser; we’ve got to figure out what to do together. We don’t want to keep going back and forth here.”

Linc Merrill, a proponent of the question, called Tuesday’s decision “kind of helpful to the overall process,” noting that since the vote to re-site Wescustogo Hall at the NYMS property failed, the grange will be rebuilt at its original location.

Elections

In balloting for the Board of Selectmen, Graham received 796 votes, while Lacy and Moulton both had 408, according to unofficial results. Nelson Smith received 299, and Paul Metevier 164.

Former Selectman Paul Napolitano, unchallenged for a one-year seat on the board, received 940 votes.

“I’m very pleased,” Graham said Tuesday night. “It’s nice to be back in public service.”

A nurse practitioner and a quality improvement specialist with Maine Quality Counts, Graham served on the Board of Selectmen from 2007-2010, followed by two terms in the state House of Representatives, from 2010-2014. She was chairwoman of the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee.

Both Graham and Lacy opposed the Grover proposal, while Moulton, Metevier and Smith were in support.

Moulton has served 13 years on the Board of Selectmen – most recently from 2005-2008, before being elected again last year – and was on the School Board from 2002-2005 and 2012-2015.

The owner of Jim’s Auto Repair has also served six years on the Cumberland County Budget Advisory Committee and several years on the town Zoning Board of Appeals. He served on the Policy Committee during his time on the SAD 51 board.

“It is what it is; sort of surprising,” Moulton said Wednesday morning. “… The people have spoken, I guess.”

Lacy works for the state as an attorney. He serves on the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, and sat on the Conservation Commission when he lived in Lisbon.

Lacy said in an email Wednesday morning that he was pleased with the turnout, and “was not anticipating a tie, particularly in a five-way race. But it’s a great reminder for those who question whether their lone vote makes a difference in the process.”

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

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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.