THOMASTON — Citizens of the Thomaston community were invited to join the discussion about the future plans for the recently acquired Lura Libby School building at 13 Valley Street, on Feb. 27 at the old school. Over the last few months, the Town of Thomaston Standing Municipal Facilities Committee (SMFC) has been working on the development of plans to convert the old elementary school in to the new home of the Thomaston Town Offices, Recreation Department, Food Pantry, Police Department, and Fire and Ambulance.
The event started at 6 p.m. with a tour of the Lura Libby Facility as it sits today with areas blocked out and labeled as to which offices they would hold. At 7 p.m. the informational meeting began. Val Blastow, Thomaston Town Manager began the evening by thanking everyone for attending and that he was pleased to see so many people interested in their community.
The RSU 13 School District donated the facility to the town after shutting it down. In November of 2016 Thomaston voters accepted the building and soon after the town formed the SMFC with the intent of moving the town into the building.
Ultimately the committee will make its final recommendation to the towns select board who will send it to the voters for their approval.
The utilization of the building is broken down into two phases. Phase one will move the town offices, recreation department, food pantry and police departments into the school house.
Phase two would move the fire and ambulance departments into the building with additional construction to house the fire engines and at least two police cruisers.
Blastow said that if they have police in the facility, why not fire and EMS as well?
"What I didn't want the board to be faced with ten years from now," he said, "the fire station being where it is and the community never answered the question. Even if you don't do it now, the decision that you would hopefully bring forward is to say yes. Phase two is our long range goal as a community."
Blastow said phase one would cost $833,000 to complete. He said that would do everything except the fire and ambulance. $1,145,000 was the estimate for phase two to bring in the fire and EMS departments.
"This would include the fire and ambulance administration offices and quarters," he said. "It would also build the 70 by 100 foot annex bays for all the fire apparatus. This would include the site work it would entail as well."
Another public meeting will be scheduled, but Blastow said it would probably not be until May following the completion of a site plan for phase two. Several citizens voiced concerns about the proximity to the schools and student traffic mixing with emergency vehicles.
Also to be decided is what to do with the town's existing property downtown in the Watts Hall building. Blastow and the committee gave several examples of how the property could be disposed of and turned into tax revenue for the city.
They were unanimous in saying that Watts Hall would remain as is.