THORNDIKE — Residents chose a steel-frame fabric building with a poured foundation for the town’s long-contested salt and sand shed at the Thorndike Town Meeting.

Saturday’s meeting took place outside the fire station, after it was delayed for a week due to concerns of snow. Because of the pandemic the meeting was held outside, and chairs were spaced out across the parking lot. Over 100 residents attended, and while some wore face masks, others did not.

The salt and sand shed vote had extended discussion from residents. Ahead of the meeting, the Board of Selectmen provided several options for the type of building with estimated costs for each: a steel-frame fabric with a precast foundation for $356,000; a steel-frame fabric with a poured foundation for $423,000; a laminated arch structure for $447,000; or a conventional construction for $467,000.

Several residents were upset that the costs for all of the options were significantly higher than the options that were presented at last year’s Town Meeting. Others said they didn’t understand what happened to the shed that was chosen last year and why they had to vote on it again.

Since the pandemic has led to some volatility in the availability of some wood and steel products, some residents complained that they only had general cost estimates to base their vote on, rather than more specific costs based on bids.

The town hired Waterville-based engineering firm A.E. Hodsdon as a consultant, and had an engineer from the company at the meeting to help answer questions.

The vote for the building had two parts. First, residents chose between the steel-frame fabric building, the laminated arch structure and the conventional construction. The steel-frame fabric option won with 54 votes, followed by conventional construction with 30 and laminated arch with 5 votes.

Many residents departed after the first round of voting, missing a second vote to choose between precast or poured foundation. The poured concrete foundation won 34-26.

“I’m grateful that people came out to vote,” said First Selectman Doreen Berry. “The selectmen worked very hard to propose the three, and basically the whole board could probably agree that there were three viable options, they will all work, and we have picked one and we will proceed on.”

Now the board will go back to consult the engineers before sending it out for bids, Berry said.

“This just allows us to proceed on to the next step,” she said.

Voters reelected the first two selectmen, but picked a newcomer for the third seat.

Berry defeated Josh Ard, 75 to 53. Second Selectman John Trafton was reelected, 84-40, over Greg Falzetta.

Third selectman voting  between incumbent Bob Carter and Charles Greenberg ended in a 61-61 tie. Newcomer Greenberg won a second round of voting, 57-51.

Greenberg teaches math at the local high school and said he had been considering running for the board for the last year.

“I just noticed things that were going on in town that did not abide by the statutes and things that I did not see as being fair to the town,” Greenberg said. “And rather than sit on the sidelines and complain, I thought it would be wise to step in and try to be a guiding force to things going on in the town.”

At the start of the meeting, residents voted to adjust the terms for Board of Selectmen, to go into effect in 2022. In the future, each member will hold a three-year term, but staggered so that only one member is up for election in a given year.

To reach that schedule, next year all selectmen will be up for election, but the first selectman will then serve a three-year term, ending in 2025. The second selectman will serve two years, until 2024, while the third selectman will serve a one-year term until 2023. After that, all selectmen will have three-year terms.

The town passed all 43 articles in the town budget, with minor amendments to some. That includes several larger items: $232,000 for winter road maintenance in 2021-22; $70,000 to pave Reynolds Road and part of East Thorndike Road; $65,000 for summer road work; $52,269.98 general administration budget; $48,750 for a reassessment of town property; $48,000 for the town office; and $42,900 for trash pickup.

The total revised budget was not available Saturday.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.