Issues with the Sangerville Town Hall

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To the Editor;

On Oct. 23, 2019, Maine Municipal Association (MMA) Risk Management Services sent a loss control consultant to inspect the town of Sangerville’s properties. This type of mandatory survey occurs every five years. The consultant concluded that the town hall has “major structural concerns or anomalies.” The report specifically cited that the rear (south) foundation wall shows signs of outward displacement and the library walls have stress fractures from the foundation’s movement. 


The loss control consultant required the town “to hire a certified structural engineer to evaluate the foundation and to make the needed repairs based on the recommendations from the engineer.”


Local contractors were contacted to see if the foundation issues posed any immediate danger to the staff and public. Both contractors expressed the opinion that there were indeed structural issues that must be addressed. Their opinion was that immediate action should be taken but there was no need to vacate the building. Their quotes to fix the south wall’s foundation issues ranged from $125,000 and $130,000.  


On Dec. 11 the selectboard held a workshop. The purpose of the “Town Hall Workshop” was to inform Sangerville residents of the current condition of the town hall building. The board’s goal was to get input from the town’s residents regarding the structural viability and continued use of the town hall in its current state. There were seven citizens in attendance. There is an audio recording of this workshop on the town’s website.


Carpenter Associates, a professional engineering firm from Old Town was contacted for an engineering survey of the town hall. On Dec. 18 an inspection was conducted of the entire building. The engineer found issues with all four foundation walls, as well as with the floor joists and beams. The engineer estimated that the foundation repairs would range from $200,000 to $300,000. The repair of the issues stemming from the movement of the building could add up to another $100,000.


Since 1992 the taxpayers of Sangerville have “invested” over $415,964 in the upkeep of the town hall. In light of these new findings, we are now looking at an additional $400,000 in expenses in order to keep the building inhabitable. This does not include improvements in energy efficiency or structural upgrades that would allow use of the entire building. It should be noted that on average our annual energy costs are $10,000.


As a result of their inspection, MMA has cut our insurance coverage from $1.1 million (replacement cost) with blanket coverage to $488,115 (actual cash value) without blanket coverage and will be raising our deductible from $1,000 to $5,000 or $10,000. Basically, if we were to repair the foundation our insurance will cover only half of our total outlays.


The Town of Sangerville has reached a crossroad.   


We need a municipal office. 


The question is, does it need to remain in a 120-year-old theater or do taxpayers deserve a more practical and efficient use of their money?


The selectboard has added a discussion article to the town warrant so that we, the residents of Sangerville, can talk about the issue. 


Sangerville board of selectmen,

Town Manager Brydie Armstrong

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