New Sharon voters approve school acquisition and town office move

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NEW SHARON – Voters overwhelmingly supported moving the town office to the old New Sharon School at a special town meeting today, as well as appropriating some funding to replace a door and 13 windows.

Taking roughly an hour to clear through the six article warrant, resident after resident rose and spoke in favor of the switch. The town acquires the old school building and the 4.4 acres of land it is cited on from MSAD 9, which until recently used it as the central office building. The town will purchase the building from the school district for $1.

“I think this acquisition is win-win,” resident Spencer Thompson said, noting that if the town did not accept the building, MSAD 9 would sell it to some third party. “If MSAD 9 sells it, who knows what goes in? Another car lot in town?”

The town currently rents a 25-foot by 25-foot space for the town office space for $4,000. That rent is expected to increase to $6,000, which would be due on Jan. 1. The old New Sharon School building is nearly 12,000 square feet in size, and town officials and board members said it would allow more room for elections, meetings and other functions.

“It’s time for us to move to a bigger and better facility,” Planning Board Member Nancy Gordon said.

In a ballot vote, New Sharon residents voted 87 in favor of moving the town office and only 17 opposed.

The new facility is estimated to cost $17,000 to maintain on an annual basis, including heat, electricity, insurance, upkeep of the grounds and cleaning. That amount is offset by the $6,000 of rent that the town will no longer have to pay, as well as $2,500 from Head Start, which wants to lease a pair of classrooms in the building. Residents gave selectmen the ability to negotiate renting out space in the building to other businesses or organizations as well, for up to five years at a time.

Voters also approved spending $7,500 to replace windows and door in the building, to make it more efficient to heat. That job will be put out to bid soon. Another $6,500, also from the surplus account, was appropriated to pay the upkeep on the building for the remainder of the fiscal year. Selectmen figure that between themselves and a few volunteers, the actual move to the building will be free.

Some residents spoke against moving the town office, citing the cost and the need for more consideration as reasons. A ballot vote on whether to make the switch passed however, with 87 in favor of moving the town office and only 17 opposed.

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