Petition to revisit funding for new public works building voted down

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NEW GLOUCESTER — A citizen-initiated petition to reconsider a town vote last month to build and fund a new public works facility failed to get the 283 valid signatures needed, according to officials. A total of 279 was required.

On Monday, selectmen voted 3-2 against the petitioners’ request for another town meeting on the issue.

Voters in mid-October approved locating the $4.6 million new public works and salt shed facility on a 25-acre lot at 611 Lewiston Road where the town’s fire and rescue station are located.

The secret-ballot vote was 168–138.

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Spokesman Patrick O’Brien presented the petition to the board Oct. 23 based on allegations that contractor Ganneston Construction Company of Augusta purchased vote yes signs that were delivered to the public works director who allegedly had two staff members place them along roadways.  

Selectman Stephen Hathorne purchased vote no signs.

At the special town meeting and at a recent board meeting, tension by some residents escalated to vulgar language and threatening behavior. A sheriff was called but the atmosphere had calmed by then.

Jane Sturgis told the board that she was frightened at the town meeting because of the rhetoric.

“Now I’m looking over my shoulder, this is not the town I know,” she said.

Sturgis, a former selectman, said, “We can and should remain civil. It’s beneficial to have input from each side. It’s high time we stop fighting and think about what’s good for our community. Let’s make it civil and make it productive. What happened to New Gloucester? I want us to go back as the town we love.”

Beverly Cadigan, who served on the Public Works Design Committee, spoke about the process that involved staff, citizens and board members.

She said, “This has been a very transparent process. I am proud to have served. I was and I am insulted and disgusted with the allegations of corruption at my committee members and me. I stand behind the integrity of the process of the committee and every member of the committee.”

George Colby said the town is not the same, and law enforcement is needed based on citizen behavior at the recent special town meeting and board meeting.

In other business, the board supported Town Planner Scott Hasting’s request to update the town’s 30-year-old comprehensive plan. A new Comprehensive Planning Update Committee will be formed with five members of the Land Management Planning Committee, five citizens at large and one selectman by Dec. 4.

The group’s work on revisions for an updated new plan based on current methods of information analysis, through help from the State Planning Office, will begin in January and be finished by the spring of 2019.

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