BELGRADE — Workers toted small and large cardboard boxes to moving vans and pickup trucks Thursday morning as the Town Office was slowly emptied of its contents.

Then, just three-tenths of a mile south along Route 27, the entire process was reversed.

Town Office staff members unpacked those boxes, set up work stations and decided where to hang calenders, store the tax maps and stack the metallic gold folding chairs.

Thursday was moving day for the Town Office, a long-awaited improvement.

The official reopening at the new location is set for Monday. Town Manager Carrie Castonguay said she was hoping to provide some property owners with services before then, but that was not yet possible without Internet service hooked up at the new location.

“Fortunately, we have a lot of online services available,” she said.

In fact, one man pulled up early Thursday in his pickup truck to a recently black-topped and striped parking space at the new Town Office, hoping to register a boat so he could run it on Saturday.

At 5,000 square feet, the new, green-roofed Town Office is significantly larger, more sun-lit and accessible to all than the old one was.

Located in the former town pit, the single-story building is surrounded on three sides by slopes of sand with an occasional swath of sparse green vegetation. While “Town Pit” remains on the road sign, Castonguay said it will soon be changed to “Town Hall.”

An open house is set for 9 a.m. to noon on June 25.

A long retention pond area behind the office was dry, and a few flowers bloomed near the generator.

Inside, a long beige countertop divides the office workers from those coming in to do business with the town. There are desk areas for Town Clerk Barbara Geaghan, Deputy Clerk Donna Boudreau, and Mary Vogel, executive secretary to the Board of Selectpersons.

Castonguay’s office is in a front corner, and Treasurer Melanie Alexander’s office is at the rear. There’s a secure, fireproof vault and a couple of storage rooms, and an office for the code enforcement officer as well as Gary Foss, the town’s facilities director and cemetery sexton.

A large meeting room is in the back, where meeting attendees can use bathrooms and a small kitchenette, while the Town Office business portion is secure. The meeting room will host its first regular Board of Selectpersons meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday . Selectmen did a final walk-through on Tuesday morning, and since there was a quorum, Castonguay said that qualified as a public meeting.

The large meeting room, too, will be used in the future for voting. In the most recent primary, residents voted at the Belgrade Center for All Seasons.

The meeting room should hold about 100 people; it was designed to be a little larger, but a need to house a $12,000-plus water filtration system — which has a 300-gallon holding tank — took a chunk out of the space.

The former Town Office is for sale. Black-and-white framed photos still on the wall show its earlier life as the Pine Restaurant, offering “Fried Foods, Bar-BQ Foods” and “Schlitz.” An interior view showed stools at counters and booths along the wall.

Today those walls are coated in vintage ’70s paneling.

“Hopefully once people see it vacant, they’ll be better able to visualize (the potential),” Castonguay said.

Voters approved spending $1.2 million to build the new Town Office; however, unanticipated items pushed the total higher than that, possibly as much as $80,000 more, according to Michael Barrett, chairman of the Board of Selectpersons.

Extra costs included raising the area for the office, building the retention pond, and installing and the water filtration system.

Initial tests of the well showed a high level of salt content. The town gravel pit previously was used as a salt and sand storage area for both the town and the state.

Those overruns nixed the purchase of new furniture, so much of the well-used furniture reappeared at the new building.

In 2010, voters in Belgrade rejected plans to build a $3.6 million, 14,680-square-foot, multipurpose municipal complex that would have included a library, a food pantry and a historical center. At the same time, they also rejected an alternative town building proposal — a 5,000-square-foot facility that would house only the Town Office and cost $1 million.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

 


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