Groups ask for delay on vote to fix historic building

By Susan Mustapich | Feb 25, 2020
Photo by: Susan Mustapich Diane O'Brien, president of the Lincolnville Historical Society, at lectern, asks for more time to figure out whether a 128-year-old town building can be fixed for less money.

LINCOLNVILLE — Two groups using the town-owned Lincolnville Improvement Association building asked selectmen on Feb. 24 to give them a year to figure out how to save the ailing structure.

In January, an architect hired to oversee an evaluation of the 128-year-old building said it needs a new roof, a poured foundation, adequate structural support for the second floor, new windows, siding and furnace, and an accessible entrance and bathroom.

Engineers determined there is insufficient support for the building's second floor. They recommended no more than a handful of people use the second floor at any given time.

The price tag for the renovations was estimated to range from $580,000 to $624,000. Additional costs to the town could bring the total budget up to $700,000 or more, according to Town Administrator David Kinney.

Diane O'Brien, president of the Lincolnville Historical Society, asked selectmen to table any action on the building for a year. She said the organization needs more time to figure out what to do. The Historical Society operates the Schoolhouse Museum on the building's second floor, and it is the repository for historical documents, photographs and artifacts.

She said the group would seek information on how things might be done differently than what was recommended by 2A Architects and engineers, a builder and an environmental company hired for evaluations. She suggested there may be other ways to heat and structurally support the second floor.

O'Brien said anytime the Schoolhouse Musem is open, it is staffed by a member of the Historical Society.

Historical Society members Rosie Gerry and Pat Shannon spoke in support of O'Brien's request. She said the society would be responsible for monitoring the number of people on the second floor.

Bob Plausse, president of the Lincolnville Improvement Association, said that with more time, other consultants could be brought in to took at the building. He made it clear that the Improvement Association had no funds for any renovations, and would "have to come back to the town for the money." He said the association's primary goal in fundraising is to support scholarships for young people from Lincolnville, and for annual events for the community.

Thinking of all the people who have kept the building going over the past 80 to 90 years, Plausse said he remembers the hard work, sweat and sometimes tears to keep it going. In the past, group members would have volunteered their labor. "We just can't do it anymore," he said.

Plausse sees two sides of the issue, one comes from the heart and another from business sense. He wants to see a two-part article to go to voters at town meeting, one to raise the money for the renovation and, if not, another to offer to sell the building "and put this all to rest."

Selectmen David Barrows, Josh Gerritsen and Keryn Laite Jr. were present at the meeting. They decided to put off any decision on town meeting votes regarding the building until their meeting, in order to include the opinions of Chairman Ladleah Dunn and Selectman Jon Fishman, who were absent.

Laite said he will not support putting money into another building evaluation. He mentioned the structural deficiencies reported in the assessment and said he is concerned that the building is not safe.

Gerritsen said that before anything is put before voters he wants to see a plan for the historical materials. He said he cannot see asking the voters for $750,000 for the building.

Barrows asked if the town can legally wait a year, and if this exposes the town to liability.

Kinney responded yes, then said if the Board of Selectmen wanted to table efforts to move forward, "we'd want to make sure we knew what were are getting into." He expressed concerns if anything happened to an individual, now that it is known that the building is structurally deficient.

Costly repairs are needed to maintain current uses of the Lincolnville Improvement Association building as a community gathering place and museum.
Comments (1)
Posted by: Reggie Montgomery | Feb 26, 2020 09:51

This is reminiscent of the Thomaston High School. It was deemed unsafe for a school back in the 80s. Then, after it was condemned it was used for a college and a public library, and still is. The same thing happened to the St. George High School. The difference there was the demolition of the building.

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