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Public may decide fate of former schoolhouse building

By Susan Mustapich | Feb 12, 2020
Courtesy of: Town of Lincolnville Costly repairs are needed to maintain current uses of the Lincolnville Improvement Association building as a community gathering place and museum.

LINCOLNVILLE — Voters may be asked in June whether town government should undertake an approximately $700,000 renovation of the town-owned Lincolnville Improvement Association building, or allow town officials to offer the building to another owner.

The building was constructed in 1892 to serve as a two-room schoolhouse. It has been owned by the town for 100 years, according Town Administrator David Kinney. The town leases the building to the Lincolnville Improvement Association, which uses the first floor, and Lincolnville Historical Society, which leases the second floor for the Schoolhouse Museum.

In January 2020, Amanda Austin of 2A Architects LLC in Rockport confirmed the price tag for renovating the 128-year-old building to current structural and safety standards ranges from $580,000 to $624,000.

These estimates include replacing the roof, pouring a new foundation, adequate structural support for the building's second floor, new windows and siding, a new furnace, ADA accessibility to the building entrance and bathroom, and construction contingency costs.

The estimate did not include additional costs to the town, including legal and administrative oversight costs.

On Feb. 10, selectmen asked Town Administrator David Kinney to come up with a total estimate to include the additional costs to the town. Selectmen held a closed-door session to discuss the building. After the session ended, selectmen voted to authorize Kinney to draft two articles for voters.

One article would authorize the town to renovate the building and figure out how to finance the renovation. The other article would allow selectmen to offer the building to another owner.

Selectmen also held a closed-door session at their Jan. 27 meeting. Following that meeting, Selectmen voted unanimously to authorize Kinney to draw up an article for voters that would offer the building to the Lincolnville Improvement Association or the Lincolnville Historical Society. A provision of the offer would have required the receiving organization to ensure that the building was "made structurally sufficient within one year of the vote of approval of the transfer."

Afterward, both organizations responded in writing, declining the offer, Kinney said Feb. 11.

The Lincolnville Historical Society asked the Board of Selectmen to hold another discussion about the building, Kinney said. This has been added to the agenda of the Feb. 24 Board of Selectmen meeting, he said.

Town takes over building maintenance

The building was maintained by the Lincolnville Improvement Association through 2017, when it asked the town to take over maintenance.

Selectmen discussions about repairing the LIA building began in April 2018. Funding was proposed for the 2018-19 budget for repair to the roof with either shingles or a metal roof and exterior siding.

Funds totaling $8,650 were added to the 2018-19 town budget for siding, and $5,000 was added to the capital improvement budget, to be used toward a new roof for the fire station and LIA building repairs. Voters approved these funds at the June 2018 town meeting.

The scope of the project changed in October 2018 when town officials asked for more information about the building, and discussed hiring Austin to oversee an assessment. Board members agreed not to limit the assessment to the exterior siding, and asked for information about stabilizing the building, structural safety and soundness. Austin suggested safety code issues be assessed. 2A Architects designed the town office renovation and expansion, completed in November 2013.

In Nov. 2018, the Board of Selectmen agreed that voters should decide whether funds in the 2018-19 budget for repairs to the LIA building could be used to assess the building's condition. Board members agreed to hold a special town meeting.

In January 2019, voters agreed, at a special town meeting attended by 20 people, to pay $17,390 for an assessment of the building's siding, structure, mechanical and electrical systems, compliance with building codes and presence of hazardous substances, such as mold and asbestos.

Directly following the meeting, selectmen authorized 2A Architects to oversee the assessment and create as-built drawings, and to hire Albertson Builders and Services for a construction cost estimate, Gartley and Dorsky Engineering and Bennett Engineering, for a structural evaluation and Air Quality Management Services Inc. to test hazardous substances.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Ron Pendleton | Feb 14, 2020 07:17

Yeah it would be 700k if done by an out of state contractor, bet local contractors could do it for a fraction of that cost

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Feb 13, 2020 12:25

WOW! In the old days neighbors would get together and accomplish repair free. Times change and taxes rise.  Sad!

But then, I am 85yrs young and times do go by with changes galore!

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