The Camden Opera House is one of several municipal buildings that Camden is looking to upgrade. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

CAMDEN, Maine ― Voters here will be asked to approve a $2.8 million project aimed at upgrading municipal buildings with a focus on making the facilities more energy efficient.

A drive-in-style special town meeting is planned Monday at the Camden Snow Bowl, a town-owned ski mountain, for voters to cast ballots.

Officials say by making municipal facilities more energy efficient the town will save more than $1 million in energy savings over a 17-year period.

Aside from creating energy savings, the project provides a comprehensive plan for addressing long needed upgrades to municipal buildings, such as replacing the roof on the Camden Opera House.

“This is something we’ve been talking about for a long time. There are a lot of things incorporated into this project that have to be done anyway,” Camden Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell said in December. “Given all the different needs that we have for our facilities across the entire town, I don’t think kicking the can down the road is an option.”

To finance the project, voters must approve a $2,336,000 bond with an interest rate of less than 2.5 percent. The total cost of the project will be about $2.8 million including interest over a 17-year repayment period.

However, by replacing outdated heating and cooling systems, improving building envelopes and retrofitting existing lighting with LED technology, the upgrades will save the town about $1,017,000 in energy and operational costs, according to town officials.

Sites slated for improvements include the Camden Opera House, the Camden Snow Bowl and the Camden Public Library, as well as the town’s public safety, public works and wastewater department buildings.

The energy-efficiency project aligns with Camden’s long-term goal of reducing its carbon footprint and doing what it can to address climate change at a local level, according to Caler-Bell.

In 2018, the town became the first in Maine to become a member of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. The group is an international alliance of local governments that have agreed to assess their contributions to climate change, form strategies and an action plan to reduce emissions at the local level, and then report back to the covenant on progress.

“This is definitely a big project, but it’s one that we’ve committed to through our policy stances on reducing our carbon footprint,” Caler-Bell said.

To comply with pandemic gathering restrictions, Monday’s town meeting is being held in a drive-in format. Voters will stay in their cars and vote by holdings cards up from their windows.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Monday. Registered voters should arrive by 5:30 p.m. Those who need to register to vote should arrive by 5 p.m.