BELGRADE — Town officials are hoping the state government hurries up and sells its highway maintenance site on the corner of Cemetery Road and Route 11 so plans for a new town office and fire station can move forward.

But state officials say they’re in no hurry to sell the property.

Last month, voters at the annual Town Meeting put aside $50,000 in an account for a new town office and select board members want to buy the state-owned property for a town office and central fire station.

Town Manager Gregory Gill said the town bought four acres from the state adjacent to the state lot last year to build a sand and salt shed. He said the state’s purchase agreement gave the town first dibs on the other parcel.

“As far as I understand, they plan to sell it, but I don’t think they have a date yet,” Gill said. “The contract we have with the state says we can purchase it for a fair and equitable price. We’re not going to get it for a dollar.”

There is a department of Department of Transportation garage with seven bays on that site, along with a couple other buildings. Gill said two plow trucks used on routes 27 and 11 are kept in the garage.

The four-acre parcel also has a diesel fueling station where plow trucks and town-owned vehicles can refuel. The town recently signed a contract with the state to use the fueling station, he said.

“It would make a wonderful location for a town office. There’s enough land so we could build it separate or attach it to the facility,” he said. “The fire department wouldn’t have to do hardly anything to it. The bays are all finished off and it’s heated. Basically, you would put a sign up on the building and (build) a communication tower up there. There would be very little to do.”

But Michael Burns, the state transportation department’s regional maintenance manager, said the sale of that property is not in the department’s current plans. He knows the town is interested in buying the rest of the parcel.

“We understand the town’s need to relocate town facilities, but right now we’re not in the position to sell that lot,” Burns said. “We need to plow Route 27 from Belgrade to Augusta and Route 11 from that facility. We also use that facility to store seasonal equipment.

“If we don’t need it any longer we certainly would talk to the town,” he added. “We understand their desire for the lot and how it fits in with their view of the town.”

The town’s 1998 comprehensive plan recommended that the community build a larger town office and centrally located fire station. The current town office space is cramped. And he said the fire station would cover all three sections of town: Belgrade Lakes, North Belgrade and the Depot.

Two years ago, residents voted down a $3.6 million, 14,680-square-foot municipal complex proposal that would include the town office, public library and food pantry.

The food pantry currently operates out of the basement of the town office.

“As far as I know they’re looking at a stand-alone town office with a food shelter in it,” Gill said. “They don’t want to see that lost. They think that’s a huge benefit to the community.”

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

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