THOMASTON — Residents in Thomaston voted to approve the two municipal referendum questions pertaining to how the former Lura Libby Elementary School building should be used in the future.
Article 2 passed with a vote of 821 to 457, while Article 3 passed with a vote of 702 to 563.
Article 2 read: Shall the voters authorize the Town to renovate the Lura Libby Facility and to relocate the Town Office, the Police Department, the Recreation Department and the Town’s Food Pantry to the Lura Libby Facility as renovations are completed?
Article 3 read: Shall the voters appropriate and authorize the Town to borrow not more than $1,100,000 by issuing general obligation bonds and/or notes of the Town, which may be callable, the proceeds to be used to finance the renovations to the Lura Libby Facility and related costs of relocation discussed in Article 2, above?
A major question asked by Thomaston residents is why the Lura Libby building cannot become a school again. Joanne Richards, of the Thomaston Planning Board, noted at an Aug. 27 Select Board meeting that state law prohibits the building from reopening as a school of any type since it was closed by Regional School Unit 13.
Richards noted the Lura Libby facility is “not by any means a derelict building” and the proposed designs would make the building ADA compliant for the Police Department as the current Police Department building, which is grandfathered, does not meet modern day federal or state regulations.
Richards stated the present Recreation Department space is “crammed in what was the changing room behind the stage of Watts Hall” and the Town would “be in trouble” if the health department stopped by. Richards noted at the Lura Libby facility, the Recreation Department would benefit from ample office space, equipment storage and space for after school programs. Furthermore, the Recreation Director would be able to “visually see” the fields the Department uses.
The existing town office, Richards noted, has “no heat and air conditioning or space to move” and is “not efficient or healthy.” The current space does not contain the necessary space for the proper filing of new town documents.
The food pantry, Richards noted, is not easily accessible for elderly residents or loading food in the elevator. Additionally, Richards noted there are few parking spots and the location is inconvenient.
Richards noted at the end of the day, the Town is still paying for the electricity, water and heat for the Lura Libby facility whether the building is being used or not.