September 26, 2014

Gray debates Stimson hall, New Gloucester considers school proposals - By Tracy Scheckel

Gray Town Council
The Gray Town Council, at its Sep. 16 meeting authorized two questions to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. The first question is for the voters to approve a Charter Amendment that clarifies how and in what account the town crisis fund is maintained.

The second question asks the public to weigh in on the future of Stimson Hall by asking if the citizens want to retain the building and expend up to $500,000 to repair it, or if they are in favor of disposing of the building by sale, which could lead to its demolition should the buyer make that decision.

The Council conducted a special meeting at 6 p.m. on Sep.23 to review and act upon approving and signing the MSAD 15 bond referendum warrant for the November 4 ballot. Although the vote was unanimous to place the question on the ballot, there was concern among Councilors Gellerson, Mancini, and Gallagher about the amount of the referendum and the tax impact.  Chair Sturgis emphasized that everyone should attend the forums and get the information to allow them to make an educated decision at the polls in November.

Stimson Hall

Community Activist, Don Hutchings will be conducting an informational panel discussion to provide the public with relevant information about Stimson Hall on Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Gray Town Hall. The discussion will be moderated by Donnie Carroll and, so far, will include Gray Historical President Don Whitney along with Hutchings.  GCTV 2 will air the discussion live and record it for periodic rebroadcasts until the November election.

New Gloucester Board of Selectmen

The New Gloucester BOS cancelled it regularly scheduled Oct. 6 meeting to hold a special meeting on Sep. 22 to address the MSAD 15 warrant for the November ballot as well as the agenda items scheduled for the Oct. 6 meeting.

Amid requests from the public not to sign the warrant for the MSAD 15 bond referendum, the BOS, after considerable debate including the legal opinion of both the New Gloucester and Gray attorneys that the municipal bodies had an administrative duty to approve the warrant voted  3–2 with Nat Berry and Steve Libby opposed to sign the warrant. Throughout the discussion, it appeared that the BOS consensus was that the school board should have separated the questions further, and that it felt forced into approving the warrant. 

Regarding the town’s repaving projects for the year, Town Manager Paul First and public works director Ted Shane reported that although the Bald Hill portion of the project is complete, due to a higher than estimated cost of material, the Chandler Mill Road portion of the repaving project would be approximately $14,000 over budget. After careful consideration, the staff recommendation was to provide a thicker shim (base coat) for Chandler Mill now, and to go back to the voters at next Town Meeting to get approval for the additional funds needed to complete the work. The board voted unanimously in support of that recommendation. The BOS also unanimously approved the use of up to $25,000 in Pineland TIF funds to repair the portion of Morse Road at the entrances to the Pineland Campus and Dunn School.

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