MECHANIC FALLS — Work is progressing on plans to move the current Town Office to its new home, said Town Manager Koriene Lowe.
Voters approved the purchase and financing of a building at 22 Pleasant St. in a 458–279 ballot question during the state referendum election on Nov. 7. The approval paved the way for the renovation and relocation of the Town Office, Police Department and library from its current site at 108 Lewiston Street to the former Mechanic Falls Family Practice building located downtown on the municipal parking lot near Future Foods.
“We are completing our finance package for approval then we will close within 90 days,” Lowe said of the process to purchase the new building. An architect has been hired, but no timetable has been set yet for the project. Lowe said it is possible the move may take place by next fall.
The medical practice closed last September. The circa 1928 current Town Office building formerly housed the Mechanic Falls High School.
But officials say the current site is plagued by numerous issues such as the need for a new HVAC system, an unreliable furnace, the inability to use the gym space (where voting has traditionally taken place) and issues that have cost thousands of dollars in repairs over the last decade.
The November vote authorized the town to obtain a bond for $500,000 to pay for the purchase of the new building and relocation of the current Town Office. It will be combined with an municipal loan of $224,500 to total $724,500, plus interest.
The plan has been in the works for several years. Officials have said that because of the additional tax base boost through the sale of the current Town Office building and expected siting of a Hannaford Supermarket in town next spring, the plan is expected to have little or no impact on taxpayers.
The sale of the Town Office would create an additional $12,000 in new property tax revenue. Although there has been interest in the building, Lowe said any specific plans for the sale of the current Town Office “are still very up in the air.”
According to information provided previously by town officials, the new location would be more energy-efficient and would reduce energy costs for the town by more than $10,000 while requiring less maintenance. It would also offer air conditioning that is currently handled by larger, more expensive individual units. Handicapped-accessibility would be improved.