BELFAST — Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge will submit an application to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection Municipal Brownfields Site Assessment Program for funds to demolish Bradbury Manor at 74 High St., as approved by councilors July 6.

There will be a two-week request-for-bids process, and then work could begin as soon as the first week of August, Kittredge said.

The city took control of the property April 20 under the dangerous buildings statute after Planning and Codes Director Bub Fournier condemned the building in October 2020. Fournier said the building is beyond repair.

Property owner James Constable has vehemently denied that the city has authority to take control of the property and demolish the building. He has taken action against the city in Waldo County Superior Court regarding the property and has accused city officials of slander, defamation, false light tort and libel, for which he is seeking $5 million from the city.

Fournier and other city staff inspected the building Aug. 13, 2020, and he said the building poses a fire safety risk to possible building occupants and the surrounding public, is structurally unsafe and unfit for human occupancy because of the lack of ventilation and lighting, and has no sanitary or heating facilities, among other requirements under the city’s building code.

The Planning and Codes Department issued a notice and a violation to Constable regarding the inspection and condition of the building before it was condemned, to which, Fournier said, the owner did not respond.

At the April 20 virtual City Council meeting when councilors voted to take control of the building, Constable spoke, at times yelling through the phone, about his intentions to repair the building, and sounded very upset that the city was seeking to demolish it. At that meeting, he accused the city of defamation.

The structure was built in the 1860s by shipbuilder Jacob Cottrell, according to the Belfast Historical Society and Museum. It became a hospital in 1922 and served in that capacity until 1960, then was reopened as a nursing home until the late 1990s. It has been vacant since.

Photos Fournier took while he was evaluating the building show wallpaper and flooring chipped away, cracks in the walls, exposed pipes and  insulation. He has described the building as a moldy health hazard with little access to water and electricity.