POLAND — Town meeting voters on Saturday approved a $2.3 million plan to upgrade and expand the town’s Fire-Rescue Station on Aggregate Road.

Fire-Rescue Chief Mark Bosse noted that three years ago, a study determined that the existing 1989 building wasn’t providing a safe working environment.  He explained the process leading to the present proposal, which would just about double the building’s size.

With an additional bay, plus training space, sleeping quarters and offices, the existing 7,392-square-foot building would be expanded to 14,524 square feet.

“Now is the time to build,” resident Brian Merrill said, citing low interest rates and contractors looking for work.

Others gave testimonials to the value of the service provided, with several noting that even as the merits of the expansion were being debated, a group of emergency-response personnel had headed for the door.

“It’s a job that never stops; I’m voting for the addition,” resident Mark Ferguson said.

Financed over 20 years, the total project cost was estimated at $3.3 million and would add about $22 a year to taxes on a property valued at $100,000.

The vote in support of expanding the Fire-Rescue Station was 87-46.

Opinions on whether the town should acquire the property that lies between Ricker Library and the Town Hall ranged from, “It is a want and not a need,” to, “It would be far-sighted of us — a strategic opportunity.”

Barbara Strout, who said she headed the effort to put the matter of purchasing the so-called Bob Walker property before town meeting voters by citizen petition, argued that acquiring the property would unify town holdings and solve some of the area’s parking problems.

George Sanborn, and others, noted that the town already owned a great deal of property along Route 26, prime commercial real estate that stands to gain in value with the coming of casino gambling a few miles up the road.

Many were bothered by the apparent lack of a plan for the property and the lack of knowledge of what the property might be worth.

Resident John Crouch argued that townspeople should at least take some action to empower the Board of Selectmen to look into a purchase, to determine what the town’s best interest might be.

By a vote of 72-33, townspeople agreed the the town should look into acquiring the property for a sum not to exceed $180,000 at such terms and conditions as selectmen and the Budget Committee deem appropriate.

“I’d say it’s up to them to do what they choose, to do with it what they want,” meeting moderator Ed Rabasco said.

Articles dealing with funding of ordinary municipal functions were approved with very little debate, their cumulative impact on the tax rate considered to be negligible.

Voters approved a number of minor amendments to the land-use code and agreed to adopt the Property Assessed Clean Energy Ordinance, allowing residents access to financing of energy conservation measures through the Efficiency Maine program.

The town meeting gave special recognition to:

* Reginald “Bud” Jordan as this year’s recipient of the W. Ballard Nash Community Service Award;

* Brian Merrill, developer of local commercial and residential properties, as recipient of the Community and Economic Development Committee’s Business Recognition Award;

* Judith Akers, for 36 years as Poland’s town clerk, recipient of a special commendation from the state Legislature for service to her community;

* and Lionel C. Ferland Sr., 94, as holder of the town’s Boston Post cane.

Attending were 140 registered voters.


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