After more than a year and a half of presentations, public forums, workshops, and a public survey on a proposal to remodel the former A.D. Gray middle school as a community center, the Medomak Valley Community Foundation had its plans put on hold Jan. 23, as the Waldoboro Board of Selectmen voted instead to begin aggressively marketing the property.

"My view is that we need more answers before making a definitive decision," Selectman Bob Butler said following a Jan. 9 workshop.

"Given the improved state of the economy, I'd like to see the town take a more active role in marketing the property, while at the same time not discounting the idea of a community center," he said.

The town-owned A.D. Gray School, built in 1935, had sat vacant since its closure in 2009 and was set for demolition before Central Lincoln County YMCA stepped in and purchased the building in 2012 for $1 with the intention that it would become a YMCA — only to withdraw from the project in May 2015.

All the demolition was completed, the asbestos was removed, walls were torn down to increase room sizes, and interior wood was removed to accommodate the introduction of insulation.

The Anne Gay Bailey Charitable Remainder Trust funded $211,850.71 of improvements and rectification of various code compliance issues.

"It would be a real shame for the town to lose the value of these investments," Seth Hall, a member of the MVCF, said in one of his presentations on the proposed community center.

He noted potential uses for the facility would include general physical activity space, restoration of the tennis courts, space dedicated to after-school teen activities as well as senior activities, possibly a daycare facility, and potentially space for rent to the public and local private organizations, among others.

Since the CLC-Y had a structural analysis and an engineering study of the facility done and assuming it would be willing to share the information, the MVCF did an energy analysis of the entire building to determine if it could be affordably rehabilitated and sustainably heated.

The consulting engineers recommended adding exterior, rather than interior, insulation to reduce the potential for the brick and mortar to freeze, and with the brick facades being on the inside of the insulation, the heating system could take advantage of the bricks' thermal mass.

Hall had previously explained that by having a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable group, such as MVCF, undertake both financial and logistical responsibility for such a project, the concerns of residents about the potential municipal budget and property tax implications of the project could be largely mitigated as "the potential financial 'risk' would lie with the MVCF, not with the town."

He also relied heavily on a public survey the foundation conducted during November elections, which he said revealed 80 percent of the respondents were in favor of a community center.

The idea was that once the project was completed, at some time in the future, the MVCF would offer the center back to the town, which in turn would oversee any ongoing operating costs.

The overwhelming theme of the selectmens' response following each discussion on the proposal was the need for a much more formal presentation, as well as detailed documentation.

"I also think we need to see actual financial scenarios," Town Manager Julie Keizer said.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.