BELGRADE — Residents had a few questions Tuesday about the process of building and buying materials for a proposed new Town Office in the former town pit just off Route 27.

Almost three dozen people attended an informational public hearing at the Belgrade Center for All Seasons in advance of a special town meeting at 10 a.m. Aug. 29.

The warrant articles for that meeting ask whether voters want to approve construction of the office and appropriate $1.2 million to fund it. The Board of Selectpersons intends to use $200,000 from a new Town Office reserve account, up to $450,000 from undesignated funds and a maximum of $550,000 in a bank loan.

However, Ernie Rice, chairman of the selectmen, told those at the public hearing, “We’re really hoping to get it done for $900,000.”

The board also is asking whether voters want to waive a town requirement to go out to bid for projects costing more than $10,000.

At the annual Town Meeting in March, voters approved a proposal allowing 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.

The existing Town Office building, a former restaurant, has limited capacity to host public meetings, accessibility shortcomings and other problems. Selectmen have said that building would be sold to help defray the new building’s cost.

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.

“This building is not going to be a tax increase,” said Ernie Rice, chairman of the selectpersons.

Resident Kelly Doran, an architect who works at Colby College, asked who had been reviewing the plans from the town’s persepective.

“Fifty thousand square feet sounds like a lot when we have this building available,” she said, referring to the community center.

Doran said if she had known the proposed drawings were available for review, she would have been happy to look at them.

Rice told her it was not too late, and that the board would appreciate her opinion.

He indicated that the board and other town employees had viewed the new Town Office in Greene and that the Belgrade plans are based roughly on that building and others.

Gary Fuller, Belgrade’s code enforcement officer, said he was a certified third-party inspector who had reviewed the plans.

Resident Paul Lessard suggested adding some decorative elements to the exterior, saying that could be done without adding significantly to the cost.

He said the building itself could help market the future of the town. “Great Pond is Golden Pond whether people know it or not,” he said, adding, “It’s that first impression.”

Rice said, “The entryway is done up quite nicely. Basically everything else when you get in is Plain Jane.”

He also said the town would be using a general contractor that would work with the board and act as construction manager.

Resident Mitchell Sammons, of the Sheridan Corp., complimented the board for its work on the project and in seeking to get the best value. “I applaud you guys for all the work you’ve done,” he said.

Sammons said he had worked well with the Thayer Corp., which did the engineering for the new Town Office.

Rice also said some of the local companies, including Hammond Lumber Co. and Gagne & Son concrete contractors, had talked of supplying materials at their cost.

Michael Ware, of Hammond’s drafting and estimating department, told the board and the attendees that three estimators had been working on the project with a goal of saving the town money.

He said they had estimated $188,000 for materials, with Hammond putting in a $20,000 donation to the town. Ware also provided the detailed estimates to the selectpersons.

“That’s one huge, huge savings for the town,” Rice said. “The board has been looking at every possible angle to do this project.”

On the project drawings displayed Tuesday night, the single-story, rectangular building is surrounded by parking spaces at the front.

The public question-and-answer session lasted slightly less than an hour.

On Tuesday, selectmen also viewed a Main Security Surveillance quote for the new Town Office, indicating that it was a little higher than they had expected. However, they said the security system would be put out to bid.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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