June 21, 2015

Special Town meeting approves the purchase of condo building for new South Windham fire station - By Michelle Libby

Saturday a little over 50 people attended the Town of Windham Annual Meeting at the town hall gym to approve the municipal budget. Gary Plummer acted as moderator for the meeting. He asked for a moment of silence for Windham residents who have passed, those not able to be at the meeting and for Veterans who are serving our country. 
Council members in attendance were Dave Nadeau (chair), Donna Chapman, Tommy Gleason, Bob Muir. Roy Moore couldn’t be there because of a previous commitment it was announced.
The citizens in attendance voted to approve the budget for fiscal year 2015-2016 for the amount of $15,579,836.00.
“We looked at essential services first,” said council chairman Nadeau. “We took that approach for transparency purposes.”
The only issue discussed was the lack of public participation. “We’re approving a multi-million dollar budget. Sixty people are voting on something that affects everyone in the town,” said Carol Waig. She was told that if anyone could come up with a better way to do the annual meeting to speak with Linda Morrell, the town clerk. It would be a two year process to change.
Almost as soon as the annual meeting ended, a special town meeting was called to order to approve the purchase of property for a new South Windham fire station. 

“This kind of fell in our lap,” said Nadeau. It was third on the list for improvements behind public works. The opportunity to purchase the buildings in South Windham was too good to pass up. The council was negotiating until late Tuesday night for the purchase and sale agreement. “We’ve been extremely frugal with this,” said Nadeau. 

The 12,000 square foot building is part of a commercial condominium meaning that Windham would own the buildings and some land around the structures, but no the entrances and common areas. “The town would own an interest in the land,” said town manager Tony Plante.   

The discussion centered around having another empty building left in the South Windham village, and at the time of the meeting no decisions had been made as to what would happen to the existing fire station on the banks of the Presumpscot River. Plante noted the need for green space and other needs for South Windham. He also said they would have a year to figure that out. 

Another resident was concerned with how Gorham felt about moving the station further away from the line. “There is no other site in the village to keep (the fire station) in the village,” said Plante.
When it came to the vote, it wasn’t unanimous, but the show of hands vote showed strong support for the project, which has a budget of up to $1,668,000 for repairs and upgrades to the existing structure at 33 Main Street. 

“I think it is the best option with the least disruption of services. This keeps it in the village and gives us room to grow,” said Chief Brent Libby. “It will be a great community effort. It’s a department project, but people can be involved in, and invest in it.”

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