Lincoln Street property to be demolished
DOVER-FOXCROFT — Nearly a month after the Dover-Foxcroft Selectboard authorized the demolition and removal of structures on the property at 72 Lincoln St., work is about to begin following a monthslong debate over whether the property would be fixed up and occupied under a new owner.
Town Manager Jack Clukey said Code Enforcement Officer Brian Gaudet spoke with those involved. “The plan is to have people at the property this week starting to do some salvaging,” Clukey said during a selectboard meeting on Jan. 10. He said doors and portions of lumber are set to be removed from 72 Lincoln St.
“Then they expect within two weeks the building will be flattened,” Clukey said.
Property owner Paul Shea, who is incarcerated, had given written permission for Peggy Gilbert to represent him and 1st Choice Property Management LLC. Gilbert met with a contractor to discuss a timeline for the demolition.
Complaints about the property date back 30 years and ramped up in the last year, when the board weighed the hazards of the deteriorating structures and ownership switched, offering hope to remedy the property.
The board issued a dangerous building order for the house and attached barn in March and gave the owner several chances to make improvements. Based on an inspection Dec. 10 that found extensive damage and Shea’s failure to provide a written rehabilitation plan — including the project’s budget, financing, timeline and other details — the board decided to move ahead with the demolition.
The board did not give Gilbert a deadline. Members agreed the process should be completed around the end of January when the ground is still frozen.
Clukey recommended a motion that authorizes him to move forward with the demolition and inform Shea that the town will take action to “recoup its costs for removing and disposing of structures, which could include the town applying a special assessment to the property or the town initiating civil legal action.”
Shea did not send a renovation plan based on feedback from third-party building inspector Ken Salvucci, who recommended demolishing the structure.
“The rock/rubble foundation is collapsing in several areas and wood structural members at the base of the exterior walls were found to be structurally unsound,” Salvucci noted in the inspection. He highlighted that wood joists on the second floor are fire damaged and exterior wall framing and wall sheathing is missing in several spots.
In other business, the board appointed Carole Boothroyd and Sue Mackey Andrews to a regional planning commission advisory committee through Eastern Maine Development Corp. for two-year terms apiece. Selectboard Vice Chairperson Cindy Freeman Cyr will serve as an alternate.
Clukey mentioned several items in his report: “We finally got our airpacks. About this time last year we talked about some major needs for the fire department,” he said. “They’re delivered and in service.”
A FEMA grant application seeking monies to replace nearly 20 air packs for the Dover-Foxcroft Fire Department was not successful last year. With the application being turned down, 19 Scott Air Packs were purchased as part of a larger $1.4 million funding package for department vehicles and equipment approved during a February special town meeting.
The selectboard authorized the purchase of 19 new air packs for $135,788 during a September meeting. This covered two additional air packs compared to the 17 that had been sought at an original estimate of $128,3000.
The air packs that had been in service were about three decades old and were not as safety compliant as current models. The department applied for FEMA funds but wanted to secure the extra funding should the application be turned down.
Clukey said the $1.4 million helped purchase a ladder truck, which has been used by the fire department for several months. “The last piece is a Pierce Enforcer, that’s on order,” he said about a new pumper truck to replace a 1999 model. “We heard in July and we haven’t heard otherwise.”
At the start of 2021, Fire Chief Joe Guyotte, Lt. Brian Gaudet and other members of the department began working with three companies to replicate the features and size of the existing pumper truck, and ended up recommending Allegiance Fire & Rescue of Walpole, Massachusetts.
The company is manufacturing a Pierce Enforcer 1500 GPM Top Mount Pumper for $702,965. If all of $682,241 is remitted to the company within 15 days of a fully executed contract and performance bonds, the balance due at delivery will be zero dollars for a savings of $20,724.
Following the 128 to 13 affirmative vote — approximately 90.8 percent — at the February special town meeting, Dover-Foxcroft officials proceeded with a plan to purchase the new ladder truck..
The vote was for a $1.4 million U.S. Department of Agriculture loan to immediately replace the 1993 ladder truck, and start switching out a 1999 pumper truck with a new, custom model, plus purchase replacement airpacks. Of the $1.4 million, approximately $590,000 is for the ladder truck, $690,000 for the pumper truck and $140,000 for airpacks.
The estimated interest rate is 2.125 percent and the estimated term is 30 years. The maximum interest to be paid over three decades is $507,540 for a combined total cost of $1,907,540.
The previous ladder truck motor blew in December 2020, the department had owned the vehicle since 2015. Due to the age of the vehicle, a replacement motor is difficult to find and even more difficult to obtain a warranty for an extended period of time. New ladder trucks cost more than $1 million.
The 1993 ladder truck had been the only such vehicle in the region, needed to reach the top of the tallest buildings such as The Mill apartments, Foxcroft Academy dorm, Northern Light Mayo Regional Hospital roof, Piscataquis County Courthouse and Piscataquis County Ice Arena.
Gaudet soon began looking at dealers across the country and a 2012 truck with a 100-foot ladder — which had been in service in Virginia Beach — was located at Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus. Guyotte, Assistant Chief Jerry Rollins and firefighter Timothy Perkins traveled to northeastern Alabama to inspect the ladder truck in person.
After some negotiating, a $590,000 price was settled on with the 2012 ladder truck to be delivered to Dover-Foxcroft. The current truck was included in the transaction by being sold for $40,000 and transported south. The newer truck comes with a three-year warranty that covers all components valued at $3,000 or more, and needed warranty work can be performed in Auburn.
Clukey said the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council has released its broadband planning report, available at www.pcedc.org. He said the report estimates a current $22 million price tag to connect unserved portions of the county with high-speed broadband.
“That’s a large investment in Piscataquis County to serve the unserved areas,” Clukey said.
When asked about a potential timeline the town manager said, “That’s all really to be determined in each community.”
He said American Rescue Plan Act funds and ConnectMe grants may be used by towns to cover municipal portions of the $22 million, and Dover-Foxcroft could potentially partner with neighboring communities on various funding opportunities.
A letter from the Bowerbank Selectboard said that the community does not wish to renew a fire service contract with Dover-Foxcroft for residents on the southern side of Sebec Lake — which was entered into on Oct. 28, 2013 — when the agreement ends following the conclusion of the current fiscal year. The letter says the selectmen feel there is no need for the contract due to a mutual aid agreement.
“There’s time for people to have conversations about what’s happening,” Clukey said, about the Bowerbank residents living across the lake from the community’s fire station. He said the Dover-Foxcroft Selectboard’s safety committee will discuss the letter at its next meeting.
During public comment, a few residents voiced their concerns about town roads and the built-up snow and ice on the travelways.
“If someone has a concern about a road, call me, email me, I want to know,” Clukey said.
Valerie Royzman of the Piscataquis Observer contributed to this story.