Gorham OKs food trucks, GHS planning cash

84

GORHAM – The Town Council Tuesday gave food trucks the green light and in other action granted the School Department more cash to plan for an expansion/renovation of the high school.

Town councilors voted 5-0 (Marla Stelk and Sherrie Benner absent) to allow mobile food vendors to operate while prohibiting them in the Gorham Village Center and urban commercial districts.

Tom Ellsworth, president of Gorham Economic Development Corp., said his board of directors opposed allowing food trucks in Gorham Village because food trucks are not consistent with the village’s New England architectural character.

Before the final vote, Town Council Chairman Benjamin Hartwell and Councilor Paul Smith favored allowing the trucks in the two excluded zones but lost 3-2 in an amendment vote.

In other action, councilors approved 5-0 loaning the town’s School Department $67,500 to continue funding plans for a high school building¬†project to alleviate overcrowding. The measure marked the second loan for the same proposed project at the aging high school.

In September, the Town Council advanced $150,000 to the School Department for the proposal with the understanding the School Department would need more. School officials in October signed a contract with Harriman Architects & Engineers for $217,500 to design a concept plan.

The state will not help the town with funding for a high school project.

Cash for the two loans to the School Department are from the town’s Land Acquisition Reserve Fund.

In Tuesday’s meeting, Town Councilor James Hager disliked labeling the upfront money as a loan. “This is absolutely on the taxpayers of Gorham,” Hager said. “The town is getting paid back from its own taxpayers.”

A high school construction project will require approval by the town’s voters in a referendum likely to come next year.

Robert Lowell can be reached at 854-2577 or rlowell@keepmecurrent.com