NORRIDGEWOCK — Members of the town’s recently formed tax increment financing advisory committee has begun working to familiarize themselves with the program and decide the best ways to use TIF funds to revitalizing the downtown area.

Town Manager Richard LaBelle said the committee, which is composed of seven members, met for the first time Tuesday. The committee plans to meet again April 25, when it hopes to allow its work to be made available to the public, LaBelle said.

A TIF district allows municipalities to capture revenue from the tax value of the improvements for various municipal development projects, and Norridgewock’s TIF is centered around the Summit Natural Gas pipeline. LaBelle said a majority of the money approved is for expenditures that focus on economic development.

“The committee has recognized that our in-town economic stimulus could be sparked by starting to revitalize our Main Street,” he said.

LaBelle said after their discussion of how most efficiently to use TIF funds, the committee members then discussed the vacant fire station on 70 Main St. Voters at Town Meeting approved allowing the Board of Selectmen to dispose of the property, and LaBelle said it could be a “turn-key project” in revitalizing the downtown area by maximizing economic development.

“The fire house has been vacant for 14 months now. We’ve been paying utilities on it,” LaBelle said, adding that those costs were extra burdens to the town, and revitalization is a good way to reinvigorate the downtown.

The committee expects to draft a request for proposals for the former station and to present ideas for criteria of use for TIF money to the Board of Selectmen. LaBelle said this is part of the public process, which is why they wanted enough time for the public to review information.

“Really, every project should have a standard for review. What are the goals we want to achieve?” he said.

He said it was important that money is not being spent just for the sake of spending it, but to inspire growth in the business community. He said at this point, “nothing was out of the question” in terms of the fire station’s future. He said the committee spoke about curb appeal and bringing the sense of “the good old days” back to the downtown area, and revitalizing that vacant structure could go a long way toward that and inspire neighbors and others to do the same for their properties.

By bringing in a business, improving the structure also could help job growth, he said. He said the message being sent is that Norridgewock is “open for business. We’re open for investment. We want people here.”

“We’ve got some great opportunities here in Norridegwock,” he said.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

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Twitter: @colinoellis