The Westbrook City Council voted unanimously Monday to lease vacant office space on the second floor of City Hall to the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, which is in need of two work spaces and use of a conference room.
Monday’s meeting was the first for the new council under Mayor Mike Sanphy and new councilors Ann Peoples and Lynda Adams.
Due to the small operating budget of the land trust, which has two part-time employees, and its collaborative relationship with the city, the group will pay an annual fee of $2,000 to lease the space. City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the lease fee is based on its share of utilities, security and other costs, and would be amended year to year.
The second floor at City Hall has been unoccupied since renovations to the first floor were completed this fall, which brought all operations to the first floor to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Bryant said any future project on the second floor would require an elevator and significant planning and renovations, which would give the group plenty of notice.
For the past few years, the city has been working closely with the land trust on its Mill Brook Preserve trail system off Methodist Road, which opened to the public on Dec. 10. For the past 20 years, the group has been based in Gorham, but the building in which it had been leasing space was recently sold.
“We saw this as a great opportunity to bring the land trust to Westbrook. It’s a great match, and a great use of the space,” Bryant said Monday.
While supportive of the plan, councilor Victor Chau asked about after-hours access and security at City Hall, when most of the land trust’s meetings would be taking place. Bryant said all valuables are already secured at closing, and that staff will be required to also lock individual offices.
The city has two concept floor plans for what could be built on the second floor in the future. One plan would establish a new City Council chambers, while the other would relocate the central office of the Westbrook School Department. Bryant said the cost for either project would be considerable.
Also Monday, the council unanimously awarded coffee shop The Daily Grind with the city’s annual $20,000 revolving business loan Monday. The loan will allow new managers Suzanne and Joseph Salisbury to officially buy the business from 16-year owner Mike Wowk, as well as make needed upgrades.
The well-known Westbrook couple took over operations of The Daily Grind, 820 Main St., last month, and have extended hours and seen a boost in business.
Also approved was a donation of a buildable house lot on Declaration Drive to the Westbrook Regional Vocational Center’s home building program. The program has been operating since 1957 and had been looking for a new lot for this year’s spring class. The building and trades program had recently completed construction of its last single-family home on Dale Avenue.