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Stories of the Year: Arundel town hall, community center come to fruition

ARUNDEL -- The town of Arundel moved one step closer to a new town hall, and a community center, this past year.

The process picked up early in 2017 as a 35-plus acre parcel of land on Limerick Road was selected by the Board of Selectmen as the site for Arundel’s new town hall. Voters approved the land purchase in June.

The Arundel Conservation Trust, formed by a group of community members, not only helped with funding for the property, but moved forward a vision for a community gathering space, hiking trails, recreation areas, and more. The ACT has been accepted as an official chapter of the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, which will serve as a resource for the group.

“We don’t really have a town center,” Town Manager Keith Trefethen said last February. “This project is our opportunity to create not only a new town hall, but a place where residents can gather and call their own.”

On Dec. 5, the Arundel Conservation Trust and the town closed on the purchase of the 47.67 acres of land. The town acquired the front 10 acres for $200,000, where the new town hall will be built, and the ACT purchased the remaining 37.67 acres for $175,000.

Now that the property has been purchased, the ACT is eager for what comes next. They have completed their first fundraising mailing and are actively researching potential grants. The group will hold a fundraising event at Vinegar Hill Music Theater on June 14. They plan to start building trails on the property in the spring.

“This was about saving some of what makes Arundel special, for generations to come,” said ACT Chapter President Joan Hull. “The purpose is to build a stronger more vibrant community in Arundel.”

In December, the Board of Selectmen began moving forward with plans to design and construct the new Town Hall.

“I think it looks different than a building you put on Route 1,” Trefethen told members of the board. “I think the community input and your input should be on the physical appearance of this building.” He said those that use the building daily will be best suited to help decide the layout.

The new town hall will replace the current facility, also located on Limerick Road. Town Clerk Simone Boissonnealt explained earlier this year that the current facility has mice in the basement, stairs with no handicapped access, and a lack of private meeting space, among other concerns. Renovating the current facility was not an option as current zoning and code restrictions would limit the size, location and access to a building on the current site.

In pleading the case for a new facility, Boissonneault said, “We need to start having community pride.”

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