OAKLAND — The effort to build a new Town Office in Oakland has begun now that the Town Council has allocated $10,000 for an architect to begin work on the building’s design.

Councilors approved the initial expenditure Wednesday night.

The new Town Office will complete a three-phase construction project that included building a new police station, opened in 2016, and fire station, which was completed earlier this week when the Fire Department moved into its new space.

Town Manager Gary Bowman asked the council to transfer $10,000 from the town’s building fund to pay architect Brian E. Duffy of Falmouth to begin designing the new Town Office. Duffy also designed the new police and fire stations.

Bowman said a new Town Office is overdue. The current building was built as a farmhouse in the 1800s and then converted into an office building for the Dunn Edge Tool Co., which was incorporated in 1856 and manufactured axes, scythes, grass hooks and knives for cutting hay, straw and corn.

The 3,600-square-foot building houses 11 staff members and the clerk’s office, administration, assessing, finance and parks and recreation departments.

Bowman said the Town Office was supposed to be renovated before the fire station but was bumped down on the priority list because the town’s fire trucks were too large for the old fire station.

“Back in 2015, we assessed that we had three critically deficient facilities,” Bowman said Thursday. “The police station was the worst, and the Town Office was worse than the fire station. But the (fire) trucks were too big for the station and it was unsafe in there, so we forwent the Town Office to take care of the fire station first.” 

A lack of insulation, a poor foundation and narrow hallways are just some of the issues with the current Town Office, according to Bowman.

“It’s not built for what we’re using it for,” Bowman said. “And as our town continues to grow, we have more people coming through the door and we just don’t have adequate size anymore.” 

At Wednesday’s meeting, Bowman said the town should move forward with the final project now so it can present the architect’s designs to community members at the annual town meeting May 5, and get the project on the ballot for the election in November.

“We have the money and the public support, and I think we’d be missing an opportunity not to do this right now,” Bowman told councilors Wednesday night. “I just spoke with a resident today that asked about the Town Office. I think we should move right into it.”

The council agreed and unanimously voted to pay Duffy the $10,000 to begin designing the new Town Office.

The new Town Office is planned for the same location as the building it will replace, on Cascade Mill Road in Oakland, but the new building will have an “L” shape that will run along Cascade Mill Road and Kennedy Memorial Drive, according to Bowman.

Bowman also said the new Town Office is expected to have a City Council chambers, where meetings would be held.

Plans call for the new Town Office to share a parking lot with the neighboring police and fire stations, after the old fire station on Fairfield Road is torn down within the next two weeks.

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