Representatives for the two proposed AD Gray projects presented information at a public forum May 13.

Waldoboro residents Surran Pyne and Vikki Bell spoke on behalf of the AD Gray Park Coalition.

Brian Sites and Travis Drake spoke on behalf of Volunteers of America Northern New England.

The two groups have competing proposals up for public vote during the June 8 election.

The AD Gray Park Coalition proposal is a park that will use all eight acres of land. This proposal also calls for the demolition of the former AD Gray school.

The Volunteers of America proposal will sell only the parcel of land containing the building for $1 to Volunteers of America. The nonprofit organization would then convert the former school building into 32 units of affordable senior housing.

Pyne said the park proposal had plenty of support from the community.

The petition to place the proposal on the June ballot received 350 signatures, which is well beyond the required 232 signatures from registered voters. “We could have gotten more,” Pyne said.

Pyne said the coalition is not against senior housing, but they want the town to retain the land. The town was not given this land to sell it for $1, she said.

The housing project would only benefit the people renting those 32 units, while the park would benefit everyone, Pyne said.

When asked about the possibility of both proposals occurring, Bell said the two projects cannot coexist.

“We really just want the park and not (to) have the two projects coexisting,” she said.

Bell said there is not enough space for parking if both projects happen. Keeping the former school building on the site would also severely limit the scope of the park.

There were plenty of other places Volunteers of America could build senior housing rather than this historic piece of land, Bell said. If senior housing is needed that desperately, Volunteers of America could build a larger housing project at another location.

In addition, as someone living across the street from the location, Bell did not want a 32-unit apartment building across from her house. “I would imagine most people would not,” she added.

Waldoboro residents in need of senior housing could find other housing options in town, Bell said, such as Sproul Block.

She also suggested seniors who were struggling to afford their house could invite a neighbor to move into their home, and receive Housing and Urban Development funding for that.

When asked about paying for the park, Pyne said the group has received more than $180,000 in pledges for the costs of the park. These pledges were from individuals who were proven donors and have engaged in philanthropy throughout town.

The coalition also hoped to receive reimbursement grant funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Even without this grant, Pyne said the coalition has gathered more than enough pledged funds to demolish the building; remove the construction debris; fill, loam and seed the location; and remove the tennis courts.

“We believe we can avoid any use of town funds,” Pyne said. “We don’t think the town will have to pony up any funds,” she added.

Sites and Drake said while they could not prioritize Waldoboro residents for housing at this proposed unit, the people who moved in would typically be from the area.

For example, Sites said the Volunteers of America facility in Thomaston has 23 of their 31 residents that formerly lived in a 10-mile radius of Thomaston. Only one resident at the facility moved to Thomaston from out of state.

Drake said the nonprofit would work with the town to ensure residents were happy with the arrangement, and to preserve the historic nature of the building.

Sites also said the building façade would remain the same under the construction plans.

Volunteers of America would love to have the housing project and park coexist, he added. The nonprofit would also be very happy to be involved in events such as Waldoboro Days.

Resident Betty Studley asked Drake and Sites to clarify the difference between their housing and welfare housing.

Sites and Drake both emphasized that this housing project is affordable housing for seniors who are living independently, and not an assisted living facility or a nursing home. The units would be for low-income seniors or senior couples who qualified under the income guidelines.

There is no disability requirement for their proposed housing project, Drake said, only that they are seniors and fit the income guidelines. It is not housing for welfare recipients.

Additionally, Drake said this proposed project is different from the Sproul Block because there is no disability requirement.

The exact age and income guidelines will vary depending on what funding sources the nonprofit is able to attain for the project, Sites said.

Sites said while nothing is ever 100% guaranteed, there are multiple funding streams available to the nonprofit, and they have a great deal of experience with acquiring this funding.

As soon as the vote goes through, Sites said, they would start securing the funding.

Each of the 32-units would be one-bedroom apartments of 600 square feet, Drake said. Maximum rent for each unit would be $810, but that would depend largely on funding sources. Subsidized housing would be a percentage of the individual or couple’s total income.

For parking in their housing projects, Drake said they typically did not provide one parking space for each unit. This would also be true for the proposed housing at this location.

The Volunteers of America also has no plans to sell this housing project, Sites said. They would not build this project and then sell it for profit.

If this proposal passes with the voters, Sites said the town would receive in lieu of tax payments as a source of income. The exact amount of those payments still needs to be determined.

The contract between the nonprofit and the town, called the memorandum of understanding, also states Volunteers of America will place a performance bond on the project. This means that if the nonprofit walks away from the agreement, they will forfeit that amount to the town.

The complete recording of the forum is available on the town of Waldoboro YouTube page.

Voting will occur June 8 at the Waldoboro Town Office. The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.