Historical Society leaning toward ‘ownership’ of Abbie Fowler School

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    SANGERVILLE — The deadline is looming for a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to take ownership of the closed Abbie Fowler School in Sangerville. But the new “owner” probably won’t have it for very long.

    Townspeople voted to have the building demolished, but securing the estimated $200,000 needed to complete the task has become time-consuming and complicated.
    Nevertheless, at the July 25 Board of Selectmen’s meeting, two members of the Sangerville Historical Society seemed receptive to the idea of having the town convey the property to the organization.
    A decision has to be made by Nov. 19 about transferring ownership to start the grant process, according to Town Manager David Pearson, “and the clock is ticking.”
    According to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, towns are eligible for what’s known as a brownfield grant to remediate a site that contains a hazardous substance which hinders the potential for reuse or redevelopment. But the program doesn’t pay for the cost of demolishing a structure. “You have to actively use the site for something,” said Selectman Melissa Randall, who recently contacted the EPA and Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
    Brownfield grants are also highly competitive, Randall said. “Last year, they had 919 brownfield grants and 683 proposals. Want to take a wild guess how many were actually handed out? 172,” she said.
    But Randall said that EPA officials urged the town to “get in the system” because even if they were turned down the first time, they could be eligible for funding in the future.
    There are other federal and state grants available for non-profit organizations that could pay for the demolition of the building. And if the site goes through an ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) evaluation, the owners “would not be held liable for anything found in that building,” Randall told the board.
    The Board of Selectmen recently approved spending up to $17,000 for a Phase II environmental site assessment to be completed by CES Inc., a Brewer-based engineering firm. But the cost may wind up lower because it includes $9,000 for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) testing which has already been completed.
    Alice Moulton and Jane Boutlier from the Sangerville Historical Society told the board at Thursday’s meeting that the best course of action is a joint meeting to address the questions. “I’d like to see all parties together in the same room,” Moulton said. “We are interested in helping the town, but we need to cover ourselves.”
    When asked about the actual administration of the grants, Pearson said that the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council would handle it. “You’ll never see the paperwork or the actual grant money,” Pearson said.
    The board said that they would work on the details of a joint session as soon as possible.
    In other business, Pearson said that he was pleased the town could hold its mil rate to $16.50 this year, and the 2 percent discount offered for early payment “has brought in a lot of taxes.” He noted that 90 percent of the property taxes due last year were paid by the end of 2012.
    But the town may not be as fortunate next year, Pearson warned. “The first half of this year, we were dealing with the last half of the state’s budget,” he explained. “But it’s going to be harder next year because of more revenue sharing cuts.” Sangerville’s revenue sharing this year decreased from $99,260 to $67,731.

ne-Sangscoutscolor-dc-po-31Observer photo/Mike Lange

    SCOUT’S HONOR — The town of Sangerville presented a certificate of appreciation to Cub Scout Pack 61 at the July 25 Board of Selectmen’s meeting in recognition of the boys’ cleanup of the boat launch and recreation field earlier this year. Pictured with Town Manager Dave Pearson are, from left, Tyler Hansen, Nathan Bock, Eion McCloskey and Hunter Kemp.

    The town also presented a certificate of appreciation to Cub Scout Pack 61 at the board meeting in recognition of the boys’ cleanup of the boat launch and recreation field earlier this year.

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