Belgrade hands will build the new Belgrade Town Office if the Board of Selectpersons has its way.

The board intends to go to voters as early as June to get approval to bypass its $10,000 threshold for competitive bidding in connection with the construction of the proposed 5,000-square-foot structure in a former sand pit.

“We’re going to try to use as many local people as possible, but again, it’s based on where we can save the most money,” Ernie Rice, board chairman, said on Tuesday.

Selectman Bruce Plourde said the town employed a similar practice when it put a large parking lot in at the Belgrade Lakes Fire Station.

“We just had a big meeting with the local contractors,” Plourde said. “One supplied all the gravel, one the bulldozer, another the compactor. Others’ dump trucks were used to haul all this gravel. They did a lot of it as a donation to the town, and it worked great. That’s similar to what we’d like to do with the new Town Office and try to save the taxpayers as much as possible. We’re not asking them to donate everything. We’ll have to pay for it. We’re wondering if we can get a better rate, and it’s people that we know.”

At the Town Meeting in March, voters approved a proposal to allow selectmen to move ahead with the planning and to site the building on the almost-12-acre plot off Town Pit Road just north of the Belgrade post office on Route 27 and not far from the site of the current Town Office.

A new, larger Town Office has been envisioned for some time, and voters have approved setting aside $50,000 or more annually to help fund the cost with about $270,000 accumulated, according to the town treasurer.

“We’re hoping that once everything is put together, we would know the amount we would have to bond, and that $50,000 we’ve been doing would cover that bond,” Rice said. “Our goal is not to increase the monies that we raise, the taxes. Our goal is not to increase our budget to support this project.”

Also in the plans is the sale of the current Town Office building, and the money realized would pay down the debt, Rice said.

So far, the town has been able to keep the work local.

A.E. Hodsdon Consulting Engineers is designing the project, and civil engineer Elliot Thayer is estimating the site work. Both Albert Hodsdon and Thayer are property owners in Belgrade.

Rice said all negotiations — which included land swaps — have been completed with abutting landowners that would allow the widening of Town Pit Road.

Kevin Hawes Construction, which extracted sand from the pit, is in the process of reclaiming and landscaping the property. Hawes is a previous road commissioner of the town. Rice said the contract to extract the material made Hawes responsible for closing the pit based on state guidelines.

Rice said the property will be sloped and vegetation will be planted.

Both Rice and Plourde said some bidding on work at the new Town Office is anticipated, and both said the board has yet to finalize details.

Rice said he anticipated some contractors will come from outside the town, citing in particular well-drilling because it appears no Belgrade contractors do that work.

“I know the goal is to use local people as much as possible, but we need to make sure we can get the most for our money,” Rice said. “We are hoping to having (the building) done by late fall,” he said, adding that the timeline depends on how fast the final numbers are provided and how soon the town can schedule a public hearing and a date for a special town meeting to allow voters to have their say.

“I personally feel that it’s going to be well received by the town, because we haven’t heard any real controversy over this,” he said. “It’s more in line with what the town really needs, and it’s a lot less than the past huge complex we were proposing.”

Rice provided assurance that the new Town Office would offer a much larger meeting room. At the current site, members of the public who want to attend selectmen’s meetings sit on a dozen or so folding metal chairs or must stand in the entryway to hear the proceedings.

When the attendance is particularly large, the meetings are moved to the Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons.

Rice said that can pose difficulties as well because some of the data selectmen need is likely to be back at the Town Office.

Four people work in the Town Office full time, another person is there on a part-time basis, and other town officials work from there as well.

“We’ve outgrown that building,” Rice said.

Rice said the Planning Board still has to sign off on the final plans for the new Town Office, and Hodsdon indicated he would complete those within the next three weeks.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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