Wescustogo project wins by slim margin in North Yarmouth

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 2

NORTH YARMOUTH — By a narrow vote of 781-642, residents Tuesday approved borrowing $3.4 million to rebuild Wescustogo Hall next to a renovated and pared-down North Yarmouth Memorial School.

Another article, asking voters to authorize the Select Board to put funds such as insurance proceeds and donations toward the project, also passed, 858-569.

Voters also elected a slate of uncontested candidates.

Fire destroyed the original Grange on Route 115 in 2013. Parking constraints at the site, which neighbors the Village Green, largely prompted town officials to consider the former NYMS property on Memorial Highway (Route 9) for a new location.

As reflected by Tuesday’s 139-vote margin, the project garnered mixed reviews in the months leading up to the referendum, which drew 45 percent of the town’s registered voters.

While some have lauded the project as the creation of a much-needed community center for North Yarmouth, others have concerns about its affordability, given the impact on taxpayers from the School Administrative District 51 budget, along with upcoming borrowing for the district’s Greely Center for the Arts in neighboring Cumberland.

Opponents also pointed to a March capital needs assessment of all North Yarmouth facilities, produced for the town by Criterium Engineers, which rates the school’s back wing – due for demolition with the referendum’s passage – as being largely in “good” condition.

Brian Sites, chairman of the Wescustogo Hall Building and Design Committee, on Tuesday night said he’d been planning a concession speech.

“I wasn’t expecting this, to be honest,” he said. “I was really expecting a different outcome.”

But Sites added that he was “super happy” at the results.

Barrett Made, a Portland-based design and build company, has worked with the committee to develop a 17,000-square-foot community center composed of a partly-demolished NYMS, retaining the gym, stage, kitchen and hallway areas. Also part of that center, the new Wescustogo will be viewable from the corner of Memorial Highway and Parsonage Road and connected through a lobby.

The total project cost of $3.67 million is to be offset by nearly $431,000 in insurance funds remaining from the original Wescustogo Hall. A 7 percent additional contingency of about $224,000 is included in the bond amount.

The project also has a fundraising goal of $250,000.

With $1.3 million in interest added over the 20-year life of the bond, the total amount to be borrowed is $4.8 million.

Uncontested candidates

Former Selectman and SAD 51 board member Jim Moulton received 1,011 votes to fill the year remaining in Peter Lacy’s term on the Select Board, which Lacy vacated last December when he moved to Cumberland.

With Jeanne Chadbourne not seeking re-election to the Select Board, Bill Whitten was unopposed for a three-year term to replace her. Whitten, who received 1,094 votes, must consequently leave the Budget Committee.

Mark Heath received 1,139 votes for a five-year Cemetery Commission term, and Steve Gorden garnered 1,106 for another three-year stint as Yarmouth Water District Trustee.

Sandra Falsey – the only candidate for one of a trio of three-year Budget Committee seats, two of which have been vacant – received 1,075 votes. With Whitten leaving the committee, three seats are left open on the seven-person panel.

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

2
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.