POLAND — Taken to task for appearing to be dragging their heels on purchasing the Walker property, selectmen Tuesday agreed to set up a meeting with the property owner as soon as possible. They also acted to set up an ad hoc committee to study alternative uses for it.

Voters in April approved spending up to $180,000 to acquire the large red house between Ricker Library and the Town Hall.

Resident Sandy Knowles brought up the issue when selectmen were trying to figure out the size and composition of the committee to study alternative uses of the property.

“Get an option on the property. Don’t keep the owner waiting,” Knowles said, pointing out a number of years ago that selectmen failed by a matter of days to nail down purchase of the property.

Resident Fred Huntress recalled the obvious long-term benefits to the town, noting that if it can secure the property, the town would have complete control over land from the library to the town office.

“Two-thirds of the town meeting said purchase the property. I don’t see much action. It should be a done deal,” Huntress said.

Selectmen said one offer was made but nothing had come of it.

Selectman Lester Stevens said that apparently several residents took it upon themselves to talk with the owners and he had heard reports of what the town might do to make its offer more enticing.

“All that accomplished was to muddy the water,” Stevens said.

In addition to calling for a meeting with the property owner, selectmen also agreed to establish an ad hoc committee that will examine all possible options, and their associated costs, for the property and set a Dec. 31 deadline for its final report.

The committee will have nine members: two from the town’s economic development committee, and one representative each from the Budget Committee, the Planning Board, the Board of Selectmen, the historical committee, a Ricker Library trustee and two citizens at large.

In other business, selectmen:

* Approved amendments to the general assistance ordinance incorporating new maximums for housing assistance;

* Scheduled a workshop for Nov. 8 with the Community and Economic Development Committee to set tasks, goals and roles for the committee and selectmen; and

* Rejected an amendment to the parking ordinance that would have allowed parking along Birch Drive.

Selectmen also took note that there appeared to be an imbalance in emergency mutual aid between the town and United Ambulance, and that electricity use at the town office was inexplicably higher despite a number of improvements aimed at energy conservation. The board agreed to look into both issues in the near future.


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