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March 9, 2007
Contact: Don Cookson

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap unveils State's
Cultural Building Task Force findings

AUGUSTA -- Secretary of State Mathew Dunlap reported to the Joint Committee on State and Local Government that the State has a significant opportunity to improve parking and access to the capital complex and address glaring needs of the State Museum, Archives, and Library Building.

Speaking to a Committee hearing on Thursday, March 8, Secretary Dunlap said the Task Force on the Cultural Building unanimously agreed that the Cultural Building needs to be expanded and renovated, or replaced, but that both options demanded that additional space be found to accommodate those who visit and work on the capital campus.

"Conditions are already crowded and unacceptable on many levels," Dunlap said, "and that description is accurate for the building and for the parking and access to the area."

Secretary Dunlap served as chairman of the Task Force, which was formed by the 122nd Maine Legislature and charged to report its findings to the 123rd Legislature.

"The Task Force featured an all star line up of professionals, politicians, government experts, and private sector citizens with a vast array of knowledge and an impressive commitment to the needs of Maine's cultural agencies and government," Dunlap said.

"The unanimous agreement that something must be done to house the cultural agencies better is significant, and the opportunity to address that need and meet other pressing needs on the campus at the same time is exciting to contemplate," he said.

Among the options that Secretary Dunlap highlighted to the Committee were the possibility of finding a new home for the Maine Department of Transportation's Fleet Services operation adjacent to Capitol Street and use the freeing up of that 12-plus acre site for a new Cultural Center, or a Visitor's Center and parking.

"The Task Force also discussed the possible interest in re-using the Cultural Building as a home for the Judiciary, which is another enticing option that would unite the three branches of government in the capital for the first time in Maine history," Dunlap said.

The Task Force recommends that additional study be given to the needs of the Cultural Building to determine more specifically the costs associated with expanding and renovating the facility or building a new cultural center.

Additionally, the Task Force recommends finding a new location for the Fleet Services operation, and funding a feasibility study for the relocation of the Judiciary.

The Committee, chaired by Sen. Elizabeth Schneider (D-Penobscot) and Rep. Christopher Barstow (D-Gorham), took the matter under advisement.

"I was very pleased by the reception from the Committee, and tremendously impressed by the work of the Task Force," Secretary Dunlap said.

Report submitted to the State and Local Government Committee.