ORRINGTON – A months long debate in Orrington came to a vote Monday night, as residents decided against a proposal for a new public safety building.
Residents crowded the gymnasium at Center Drive School, and voted 255 to 234 to reject those plans.
At Monday night’s special town meeting, residents decided to vote by secret ballot as opposed to a hand vote.
The proposed building on the corner of Center Drive and Tupper Drive would house both the police and fire departments. Officials said they’re outdated and currently have multiple code violations.
Town leaders have been working on ideas for a new building for years now.
But some voters were worried about the $3.5 million price tag and the planning process.
“They can spend the money in better ways,” said Wayne Cartier, who was opposed to the idea. “How about making it transparent and let’s have the needs [addressed] first.”
Monday’s vote was originally supposed to happen in September, but was delayed. Earlier in September, public informational meetings were held on the subject. At the time, some residents said they did not have enough notice of the plans to make a vote.
“There were questions that needed to be answered and legalities that needed to be defined,” said Orrington Interim Town Manager Andy Fish. “There was some issue with proper notice, and we wanted to be certain that everybody was properly notified.”
Those voting for the new facility said their first responders deserve to have their concerns addressed, like not having tall enough ceilings for modern fire trucks.
“It’s time that we supported our firefighers and stepped up to the bat,” said Fred Eich, an Orrington resident who was for a new public safety building.
According to town officials, the new building would have been paid for by municipal building reserve funds, a tiff program, and an undesignated fund balance. So Fish said construction costs should not have impacted local taxes.
In the meantime, it’s back to the drawing board.
“The board of selectmen will have to reboot,” said Fish.
Based on the town’s charter, they can’t have another town meeting on the same topic for another 120 days, according to Fish. So if it is taken up again, it will have to be a couple months.