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Raze or lease; Choose only one
PERU- On November 8, voters will be able to put the issue of the former elementary building to rest as long as they vote for only one choice on the ballot; to ask for bids to raze (tear down) and landscape the site or to allow selectmen to lease the building to the Friends of Peru Elementary with the intent to make it a community center with no taxpayer funding involved. A public hearing will be held on October 27 in the Dirigo Elementary School at 6 p.m. to educate citizens on this issue.
“We have a beautiful educational facility over there,” noted FPES President, Nick Waugh. “It's not a decaying building with nothing to offer. It's waiting there for our energetic group of people to bring something back to this community, a spirit that hasn't been around in a long time.”
Over the past six months, there have been many heated discussions, public hearings and special town meetings to discuss the fate of the former school, one of which took place at a recent selectman's meeting.
“We really need to look at what the future of the town would look like with and without the building,” noted Board of Selectman Chair, Tim Holland. “We need to discuss our options and then move on. People are getting tired.”
The FPES plans include a very generous gesture by Waugh to put up $10,000 of his own money toward the creation of the rec center and to get the ball rolling on the project. While he stated that he's not well off financially by any means, he is willing to loan the money with an agreement to get paid back down the road when the building is making money.
Plans also include inviting back the several tenants the building had prior to the June vote not to appropriate any money to keep the building open, those tenants would put $2,000 - $4,000 immediately back into the building. That money, along with the $10,000 grant that was turned down by voters in August, would have sustained the building for the next 12 months while the FPES got their feet under them with their fundraising goals.
At a recent selectman's meeting, citizen Rick Wilson presented the board with a petition signed by 100 voters, asking to either tear the building down or to authorize selectmen to keep and maintain the upkeep of the building as a community center.
“People just want to be done with this whole thing,” noted Wilson. “I spent three days getting signatures and this is what the people want. I did my part and brought it to you (selectmen) and now it's up to you to decide what to do.”
Over the past months there has been lots of talk and loud discussion on why the building needs to be saved, if it can be saved, and the obvious question, how much money is it going to take to save it. While FPES has been organizing weekly Wednesday night meetings at the fire station to discuss their options to save the building and make money through various fundraisers, there have been the nay-sayers that are looking to tear the building down.
One of them, selectman Kathy Hussey, noted at a recent selectman's meeting, “I'm probably going to get shot by them (those against saving the school) for saying this, but what have we got to lose by offering them (FPES) the chance to make a rec center work?”