North Yarmouth voters halt effort for new Town Hall

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NORTH YARMOUTH — A special Town Meeting Tuesday narrowly defeated a proposal that would have allowed the town to explore construction of a new Town Hall.

Opponents successfully argued that the prospect of a new municipal building would jeopardize plans to rebuild Wescustogo Hall on the site of the former North Yarmouth Memorial School on Route 9.

The argument carried enough weight to defeat the article favored by the Select Board, which would have repealed a prior vote requiring the town to retain, renovate and, if needed, expand the current Town Hall.

Tuesday’s vote was 98-87 against repeal.

It took more than half an hour at the start of the special meeting at the school to get everyone who attended in the door and checked off the voter rolls. Many said that more people came to Tuesday’s meeting than often attend the annual meeting where the town budget is decided.

The Select Board sought permission to pursue cost estimates for a new Town Hall, following a recommendation earlier this year by the Town Office Renovation Committee. The committee found, in part, that the existing municipal building is no longer suitable.

In the notice for the special Town Meeting, the Select Board said the committee “concluded that renovating the current Town Office would be ineffective and a waste of money.”

It said “the committee cited problems with poor layout; inadequate storage … high utility and maintenance costs; and noncompliance with ADA standards.”

It also said “recent studies from two environmental consulting firms have (also) reported significant issues with mold and air quality.”

In introducing the issue Tuesday, board Chairman Peter Lacy said since residents voted to keep the Town Hall back in 2015, “information has come to the board that it’s just not possible to renovate” the building.

He said the goal of Tuesday’s meeting was essentially to free the town’s hands to explore the possibility of building a new Town Hall at the same site as the new Wescustogo Hall.

That project also includes plans to tear down much of the former Memorial School, while retaining the gym, stage and kitchen area, and linking what would become the community center to Wescustogo Hall through a connected lobby.

Lacy argued that repealing the 2015 decision would only authorize the Select Board to move forward with a design process, and that voter approval would be required before any construction on a new Town Hall was allowed.

Several residents agreed with him, including David Holman, who said, “It doesn’t make sense to limit our choices.”

But Linc Merrill, a member of the Wescustogo Grange Hall Association, said putting a new Town Hall together with plans for rebuilding the hall, which was destroyed by fire in 2013, would lead to defeat for replacing the historic grange building.

“The Grange Hall Association strongly opposes” the Select Board’s measure, Merrill said. “There’s little belief that the hall will be rebuilt.

“Do not kill the grange project by continuing to move this forward,” he added. “We’ve got to rebuild the hall, that’s what I really care about.”

Another resident, Steve Parisi, said, “We should have rebuilt the hall within weeks of it burning down.”

He also noted, “We told the (Select Board) we wanted Town Hall to stay right where it is and steps should have been taken right away to fix (it).”

After the first article on Tuesday’s warrant was defeated, it didn’t take long for residents to also defeat a second measure that would have allowed the Select Board to use $65,000 to pay for design work on a new Town Hall.

Following the meeting, Lacy said he’s unsure what will happen now.

The Select Board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Aug. 15.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Residents at North Yarmouth Memorial School voting against a measure Tuesday that would have authorized the Select Board to pursue design of a new Town Hall.

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  • James

    Now that’s over with (again) the Town can start to move forward. It is time for Rosemary Roy to resign or for the Selectman to earn their credibility back and do the right thing and fire her. Since her arrival she has done nothing but spend money without results. Our taxes are soon to be on par with Cumberland and Yarmouth with a fraction of the services. Why are our taxes so high? Roy and the selectman have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on studies and more are pending. It’s spending money without results as advised by Roy who is not a resident and feels no pain from tax increases. She is the cancer that needs to go.

    To the Selectman, the residents don’t trust you. Since Roy’s hiring you have been complicit in the expensive boondoggles at Roy’s whim. Grow up and act without ego and make decisions that are good for the town. To Anne Graham directly, climb out of your ivory tower and listen to us commoners. Your behavior last night was beyond childish, you want respect, offer some to us poor uneducated (by your standard) folks you represent.

    Once again the cry goes out for the town to unify and work together. Will it be followed or ignored? That will depend on if our Selectman can stop representing their ego and start listening to the residents. It’s a clear message, we cannot afford more taxes, so stop spending stupid and start making our taxes work for us.

    • Watchful Eye

      I agree with James. Nothing good has come from Roy being in our town. She has been the lynch pin in a lot of what has gone in in the last 3 years. I’ll say it again. They got rid of her in Poland for a reason. The last couple of select boards have not been stellar either. Underhanded back room deals that cost the town time and money. Hopefully the taxpayers voices were heard last night.
      Trust and integrity. Handshakes that really mean something. A persons word. That’s what town officials should have heard last night. Didn’t matter whether you had the best idea, that article was going down. So let’s move forward and work together. No more personal agendas that cloud the big picture. So proud to see so many townsfolk there last night. ‘Bout time.

    • Resident

      James. I don’t think that you are aware that the Board you don’t trust is a relatively new Board with 2 new members just from the last election. They deserve our support since they inherited many of the problems from the previous Boards’ inabilities to move things forward. It would help everyone if that fact could be shared among the residents. The dysfunction from the previous Board and its ineffectiveness is a true statement but please let’s not lump this Board into that category. Kudos to this group of volunteers for stepping up and sorting thru, and with the input from residents, make the best decisions for all residents, today and in the future.

      I would certainly encourage residents to attend Board meetings. Also, to answer your question about our taxes, it’s because the previous Board did not move forward on establishing TIF districts and that we don’t have a commercial base like Cumberland and Yarmouth. Both of those communities have a vibrant RT 1 and more. Our tax base is all residential housing.

      I understand your frustration and fear of higher taxes. I’m in my 60’s and worry as well. I like the phrase, ” you can be part of the problem or part of the solution!” I would like to think that our residents could be part of a solution.

  • Mainer1

    Good job North Yarmouth! Spend less=tax less

    • David Holman

      Yes, except that renovating the small house to comply with Osha etc will cost more in the short and long run than moving to NYMS classrooms…

      • Watchful Eye

        Dave, I heard your two impassioned speeches to”do the right thing”. Seems you haven’t been paying attention or haven’t noted the dysfunction from the past. The new board seem to be heads and tails above the last which was a lesson in frustration. One thing you should note is that the town only put a new roof on half of the ARK. When it rains, water runs down some walls causing a bigger mold issue. That is part of the reason the place was given up. Fact is their is a letter stating that to fix the mold at the Town office you only need to clean the carpets and clean the place once in a while. A whole lotta hooey about someone coming to inspect the place and immediately getting sick. Please. More from Roy who stretches the truth to affect her agenda. Gotta look deeper.

        • David Holman

          There’s a lot of emotion that clouds people’s judgement on these issues. I’m trying not to let my love of our grange or frustration with leadership lead me to make a decision that will needlessly lock in higher taxes. While I’ve worked with two town managers as a budget committee member and many select-board members, I’m keeping my personal opinions of them out of this because blaming people won’t solve problems. This need not be personal- it’s about doing what’s best for the town long-term. Long-term, we need a real town hall like all of our neighbors, not a single family home. Rather than throwing good money after bad to renovate that house, we should sell it and use the aprox 300K to consolidate as many town offices under one roof (NYMS) as possible. Fire/rescue, public works, historic society etc. all need more office space. Consolidating to NYMS has the best chance of keeping taxes down, not maintaining lots of separate small town facilities that we are outgrowing and need expensive repairs.

          • Watchful Eye

            Dave and Diane,
            I’ll attempt to say it again and please, I am not being condescending. A LOT happened over the past three years that you seem to want to buff over. If you kept up on the website NYourtown.com, which was taken down as part of a mediation agreement, you might understand the degree of corruption that went on at the time. Most of the folks in this town had no idea what went on. The site was very transparent and above all, truthful. So truthful it made Roy, Payson and the select”people” squirm in their seats. None of the sheep payed attention to what was going on though. They are now. The events of the meeting will only solidify the solidarity that you saw the other night. The vote was close but the MAJORITY spoke. It is very naive and not very insightful to think the process has been shut down. There is a problem in this town..really…look deeper. I believe both sides want the same thing but there is no trust. There is a common denominator. I try to keep an open mind also but I know how Roy works. She has an agenda of her own and is attempting to manipulate that agenda. That is the truth. Remember the old Maine saying.’ ” It ain’t what ya say, it’s what you leave out”.

          • James

            So as the majority of the renovation committee is comprised of current town employees doesn’t concern you? Rosemary has consolidated her power by rewarding those who support her and dismissing those who don’t. Did you look around the gym as the vote was taken, not only did all the Selectman vote for the new town hall, so did all the other town employees present.

            It used to be that Selectman had to attend all meetings, now for Anne Graham it has been made optional. Anne Graham has missed 6 meetings in her term so far and did you see the way she acted, a whisper from Roy and an objection from Graham, another quid pro quo.

            These are big enough flags for me to vote no every time.

            Get rid of Roy and her incompetence. Have a resident representative committee make recommendations and don’t call a repeal and $65,000 study to move the town hall to NYMS a choice.

            What needed to happen was a motion of no confidence by the residents in Roy and her administration.

      • James

        It came down to trust, no one trusts the selectman or the manager. This current board is complicit in these problems.

        The argument used for this vote: this gives us options to make informed decision is wrong. The vote was to repeal 1 element of the vote then spend $65,000 to move town hall to NYMS. Telling residents they have choices then only providing 1 choice will always end in failure.

        In a town of strong characters lying will never win, that is why Roy’s tenure has been such a failure. Want to fix our town, get rid of her and don’t us MMA to help find the next Manager. We will only get another recycled bad leader.

        Leaders lead by example. I am still waiting for someone to show leadership skills in North Yarmouth and based on history I don’t hold much hope for it happening anytime soon.

        • Diane morrison

          How is this Board complicit James? You seem to know more than most of us residents so keep us informed. This Board is relatively new and you must be referring to the previous Board?
          Here’s what I heard and we were at the same meeting. I also went to Board meetings so maybe that helped me see the reasoning behind their recommending these 2 articles.
          If a positive outcome had happened, the Board could have used the $65,000 a to get a full set of designs for a town hall at NYMS? Prudently, they realized that the plan for the Community Center and the infrastructure surrounding it had already been designed so the cost for that would not be duplicated in the plans for a town hall at NYMS site. They also saw a cost savings in maintenance, plowing, landscaping, and convenience for residents. Also, selling the old Town Hall (which is really a house) would have helped defer the costs for the new one. Does this sound like an untrustworthy Board or a sensible fact searching one?

          By shutting down the 2 articles, the Board is now handcuffed and can no longer look at ANY options. The vote did not speak for all the residents of North Yarmouth but for the 93 people who voted against it. This was not a win for anyone, even those 93 folks. The future will bear that out and I hope that those folks remember how they voted and not blame the ineffectiveness of the Board.

          • James

            Just because the articles were voted down by the majority present the vote doesn’t represent the will of the people? 1 person 1 vote and no restriction to vote. If residents chose not to attend and vote, that is their choice and by default their vote. Civics 101. Lets agree not to bring alternative facts into these discussions.

            Clearly the problem is at the top, this entire situation traces back to the poor lying leadership of Rosemary Roy. The Board is complicit by not acting to fix the problem and dismiss her for all her lies and incompetence. How much has Roy cost this town, and what has she delivered? Is there a leader on the Board that will step up and fix the root problems, restore creditability and be transparent? Didn’t happen last time and doesn’t look good for this time either.

            Last time did anyone on the Board reach out to the vocal supporters on both sides and set up a place to meet and talk to work together vs creating a greater divide? Is anyone going to try this time?

            As General Patton said “If everyone thinks alike then someone isn’t thinking” Too many times in this 4 year arduous process our selectman have not been thinking and that was clearly evident with the hand wringing and facial expressions as the vote was announced.

          • logical

            I doubt you would be griping about the vote if it had gone in the direction you had wanted. You show up and vote if you care. If you don’t care, then you let those who show up make the call. Ahh Democracy.

          • Diane Morrison

            Hey, Logical.please don’t misread what I said as griping, far from it and you’re absolutely right. It’s just intended as an observation! Showing up and participating is important as well. ( come on Logical, come out from behind your Logical curtain (:

  • logical

    Here’s something else to throw on the pile for thought. Where is risk management in this town? If the Town Manager knows that it is an unhealthy work place and has known for a long time, then why hasn’t she moved people out of there? If someone gets sick we will get sued again. I think there needs to be RM training for all employees. If anyone sees an issue they are required to report it so that it goes on record and send it up the chain to be corrected. The TM should be making sure the town’s butt is covered. Sorry, but she doesn’t have a clue.

  • Save Town Employees

    North Yarmouth residents should have been ashamed at the behavior of a few at last night’s meeting. I came to vote on two articles, not listen to an organized bunch of naysayers in favor of their grange hall. Seemed nothing else mattered to some folks. That’s not why we were there! A majority of 11 votes is not a mandate from residents. I’m confident that if this meeting were held in the fall, it would have had a very different outcome. People attending public meetings should be respectful to others, not yell out from their seats or make comments when others are speaking. Threatening the moderator was over the top. The meeting should have been postponed at that point. Some folks seem to be in their element at these meetings and think we should all listen to their very vocal comments. The same group of former selectmen come out against anything that isn’t to their liking and bash current and former selectmen at every turn. North Yarmouth is seen as a very dysfunctional town by neighboring towns and last night performance by a few was a good example. I came to the meeting to vote on articles, not to dismiss them.
    I hope the Selectman get their million dollar quote for repairs to town hall and jam the bill right down our throats. I’m sick and tired of the same names trying to run our town when they are not elected officials. Give the Grange insurance funds (less town’s cost for past repairs) back to the grange group and send them packing. It served its purpose years ago but it’s time has passed.

    • Watchful Eye

      Sorry you feel so beaten up. I do agree that the process has been flawed for the past 3 years. Problem is personal agenda and a town manager that cannot manage the town. She has no ability to lead this town. The TM’s responsibility is to guide the process and make it easier to understand the language. Roy has made it harder and that has driven most taxpayers to a point of mounting frustration. That is what you saw last night. As I stated earlier, no amount of logical conversation was going to change the outcome. People are angry and tired of sleazy, heavy handed, backroom politics and lies. Yes it happens here too. I feel your frustration but I am was in the other camp. It is time for the town to get its act together. As I stated a few years ago ….can a real leader step up? Anyone?..Beuller?

    • jbacus

      Funny, it was exactly an 11-vote margin that committed us to higher taxes for a performing arts center that 99% of North Yarmouth residents will never set foot in. Where’s the outrage?

    • Watchful Eye

      One other thing you should know with regards to Mark Verrill’s behavior. Anne Graham was making snide comments about him being an uneducated towny and other comments. That is why Mark reacted the way he did. Graham should be removed from the board because it is evident she is inept and can’t handle the job. Shameful.

  • Dixie Hayes

    What kind of reputable news organization allows anonymous postings? I am interested in what every citizen of North Yarmouth thinks, but not when they hide behind a made-up name and take cheap shots at people. The solution to issues in North Yarmouth is for people to say what they think and listen to what others think. This Forecaster policy contributes to the rude and disrespectful tone that defined last Tuesday’s meeting in North Yarmouth. Enough bullying, threatening, speaking for other people, and profanity-ridden rants. Come on Forecaster, step up and do your part in encouraging civil discourse vs. civil discord!

  • Voiceofreason

    dysfunction Junction….When the report comes back (Which by the way is NOT a recommendation) The current Town Hall remediation and ADA mandates cost will not be pretty. So you pay the bill and you still have a barn for a Town Hall. Additionally, the lack of civility at the lynch mobbings AKA Town Hall meetings is so discouraging. NY is Mayberry and it is a really bad look when the overall goal is to expand the tax base and create a culture of civility

  • Paul Hodgetts

    They should have repealed the Grover plan. That would have been the smart thing to do.The cost to the tax payers was $500,000.00 to renovate the gym and rebuild the Wescustago. Now we are some where around 3.5 million dollars. Yup that is the way to save money.

    • Diane Morrison

      Paul you are a member of the Wescustago Committee so how do you reconcile what you just posted?

      • Paul Hodgetts

        Diane I’m also a tax payer and resident of North Yarmouth. So I have a right to my opinion. I try to think of ways to keep our taxes down not make them rise. Your husband Steve ( who is a BOS) voted with other board members to have Barrett Made come in with a lower figure for the rebuild of Wescustago Hall and the gym. Why? Because they felt the cost was too high for the tax payers of North Yarmouth and the voters might not approve it (my opinion). The old Grover plan seems to be a better idea now that we have some solid figures in. Again my opinion.