UNION — With guidance from Mathew Eddy of the Midcoast Council of Governments, the Union Select Board decided Tuesday, Oct. 4 to move forward with developing the Thompson Community Center as two separate projects — one in the yellow Union School and the other in the brick Thompson Memorial Building. Eddy said he hopes the town will have a proposal for voters at the next June town meeting.

Under the approved plan, as outlined by Eddy, the town will seek proposals for the Union School and use the revenue stream from that development to maintain and operate the Thompson Memorial Building as a community recreation center. This would be accomplished by setting up a Tax Increment Financing district, or TIF.

A Tax Increment Financing district is an economic development tool which directs taxes from a development for specific purposes. In this case, the district would “capture the value of the new development that would occur in the yellow building and bring that value over to help you maintain the community center,” Eddy said.

While some members of the Select Board expressed reservations about a housing development for the Union School, Eddy said some sort of housing would be “the best use of that building.”

Union residents have identified housing as a real need in the community, he said, and housing would create adequate revenue for the community recreation center.

Chair Adam Fuller said he was not “100% sold on housing,” but admitted “there’s a lot of money out there for housing.” He then added, “if that’s where we can get stuff to offset the cost to the voters, and get a community center out of it, I’m all ears.”

Eddy suggested the request for proposals could be worded to indicate the town is looking for housing projects, but also open to other options.

One of the first steps for this plan is the formation of an advisory “working group.” This group will work with Eddy to move the project forward, starting with drafting a request for proposals for Union School.

Eddy said the working group should consist of five or six people appointed by the Select Board, including a member of the board, a member of the Thompson Memorial Association and two or three people who “represent really strong opinions on either side” of the Thompson Community Center debate.

Fuller said the board should choose these members carefully to appoint people who can “work across the opinion scale” to avoid potential roadblocks or personal agendas.

Board member Bill Packard said those appointed to the group should commit to working toward this plan for development and not try to create a new plan for the Thompson Community Center.

Any interested resident can submit a statement of interest form to the town. This form can be downloaded on the town website under “boards and committees” in the “government” drop-down menu. Forms can also be obtained at the town office.

Fuller said the board would review applications for the working group at their next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18.