NORWAY — The Board of Selectmen may ask for money at a future town meeting to hire an architect for what officials say could be the first step toward renovating the existing Town Office on Danforth Street.
“The plan is to go very slowly,” Town Manager David Holt said. “Take one step at a time and find out what it would cost.”
Officials have looked at expanding space at the Town Office, including the Police Department, since 2007, when police Chief Rob Federico oversaw a space needs committee.
At that time, Federico told selectmen the Police Department was in need of more space for a detective’s office and interviews. It also needed space to consolidate the department’s other functions, such as storing abandoned bicycles and removing the police officers’ locker room from the fire station.
Later in 2007, students from Oxford Hills Technical School presented seven options for the expansion project, including one for new construction on the existing building.
Since that time, officials have looked at the need for a larger vault space. Fire Chief Dennis Yates has said the town should consider building a substation in the north end of town.
Selectmen also appointed a committee two years ago to look at ways to use the Town Office building more efficiently and effectively.
In April, students in an engineering and architectural design class at Oxford Hills Technical School were asked to work on the floor plan of the Town Office to optimize use of the space.
They presented plans for an expanded police station with its own entrance and a new community room, which the board is now considering.
These needs, coupled with other future capital projects — lower Main Street drainage, sidewalks, projects to repair Norway Lake dam, a new highway garage, a North Norway fire substation and other street work — must all be weighed against available money, Holt said.
Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman told selectmen at their meeting last Thursday that the students’ plan is “a great plan,” but it still needs to incorporate an enlarged vault space at a cost of approximately $30,000.
Holt said he would like to look at using a different heating system — perhaps a wood pellet furnace.
Holt stressed that no one has decided whether the students’ plan or a version of it is best, but it has helped selectmen in their decision of what direction to go.
No firm cost estimates for the Town Office project have been developed.
These needs, coupled with other future capital projects, must all be weighed against available money, Holt said.
“We can’t do them all at once, but we can’t ignore them either,” Holt said.
The next step will be determined when the budget process begins and officials can see how much money they can set aside for a capital project and which project on the list will rise to the top.