Police & Fire

D-F Select Board declares Union Street home a dangerous building

DOVER-FOXCROFT — Earlier this fall the Dover-Foxcroft Select Board began the process to rectify a pair of deteriorating properties at 70 Union Street and 130 Pleasant Street. Following public hearings on both during a meeting on Monday, Dec. 11, the Union Street home was formally declared a dangerous building while a motion was passed to continue the hearing on the Pleasant Street home until the next select meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024.

In October Code Enforcement Officer Brian Gaudet said the 70 Union Street home has been falling apart for years and has broken windows and a barn and shed starting to tip over. He said the owner passed away about a year ago and the heir cannot afford to make repairs or have the structure demolished.

In his report, Building Inspector Ken Savucci wrote about his Aug. 3 property inspection, “I found that the structure has settled significantly over the years due to foundation failure most likely from a negative drainage condition or no existing perimeter drainage system. Due to this condition, it’s my opinion that this building is not a candidate for any rehab work and should be considered for demolition.”

Heir Aaron McLain said he agreed that the home needs to be taken down, and he said he would be happy for the town to go ahead and do what needs to be done. The order does provide 60 days for McLain to take steps to remedy the issues.

Town Attorney Jon Pottle of Eaton Peabody said Dover-Foxcroft’s public works crews should be able to conduct the 70 Union Street demolition. Municipal costs would be recouped through a supplemental tax assessment, and McLain said these could come from the sale of the property which is currently in the probate process.

“It’s thousands, not hundreds or millions,” Town Manager Jack Clukey said about the cost for the town to tear the home down.

In October Gaudet said 130 Pleasant Street has a roof and garage that are falling down and has a sinking front porch, and the code enforcement officer said he has heard reports of rats there. The property is owned by a limited liability company in a southern state and letters had previously been ignored.

On Monday evening the select board learned the LLC is in the process of getting bids for cleanup and is looking to get a list of specific fixups from Gaudet. Previously he had not been granted permission to go inside.

“Based on what we heard, it may be better to postpone any action on that,” Select Board Chairperson Tom Lizotte said.

Pottle suggested continuing the public hearing until the Jan. 9 meeting, as by then town officials could have more information on clean-up plans including details in writing.

In other business, the select board approved a $114,000 project to replace the Morton Avenue playground. 

All the work will be done by O’Brien & Sons of Medway, Massachusetts with about $90,400 for equipment and $23,600 for installation and design. The town has funds in a recreation department reserve account and Puritan Medical Products of Guilford made a donation. Installation is set for next year.

Clukey said the project has been in the works since 2021, when it was determined that only the existing swing sets should remain with the rest of the play equipment in need of replacement. “We’re busy when it comes to kids playing at the playgrounds which is a great problem to have,” he said.

The town manager mentioned there is equipment geared toward older children at Kiwanis Park behind the Piscataquis Regional YMCA. Potentially the town and Kiwanis Club of Dover-Foxcroft could start planning on upgrades to this rec space.

Lizotte said it is important to have a pair of playgrounds in Dover-Foxcroft. He said these are among the assets for children and families that have helped increase the town’s population and contributed to thriving schools.

The select board approved a $39,291 proposal from Mike’s Big Rig Repair of Bradford to convert a former fire department tank truck into a public works vehicle which will be used to haul gravel and snow. The 1995 Peterbilt 18-wheeler will have an 18-yard body installed to provide 50 percent more capacity than a 12-yard wheeler that had been used for hauling.

“The innovative approach will save the town money and come up with something useful,” Lizotte said. He said the value of the completed truck will be $100,000-plus after the work.

“There’s still life left in the truck itself, most of the issues were in the body,” Clukey said. He said the truck will be used year round. The town manager said with a dedicated truck for hauling, town crews will no longer have to worry about taking plows and wings off and on.

Dover and Foxcroft Water District Superintendent Rob Durgin said a pair of projects are planned for 2025. 

The first is at the intersection of East Main and South Streets, replacing pipes in an area that has been untouched since the 1970s. Durgin said the work would be coordinated with Maine Department of Transportation efforts to widen the intersection.

Further up West Main Street a line will be moved from the cemetery near the Piscataquis River to be closer to the road, running about a mile from the treatment plant to near A.E. Robinson. 

Durgin said there is funding in place for a portion of the project costs, but there likely also will be a rate increase for department customers.

In his report, Clukey said a steering committee for the downtown Mayo Mill dam was set to meet the following evening. He said the group is in its final phases and “we will be looking at scheduling another public forum in January” to follow up a session held in late June.

Under the auspices of the committee, a partners team is working to consider the various possibilities and everything tying into the dam on the Piscataquis River  — such as an assessment of the physical condition of the structure and property, an inventory, and being in compliance with all regulations — to be included in a community-based feasibility study to help determine the long-term future of the dam. 

A final recommendation for the select board, such as how to repair the dam or phase the structure out, is expected by the end of January.

More than a decade and a half has passed since the Mayo Mill Dam has produced energy. In the years since the municipal-owned structure has remained in place but it is only deteriorating with the continual water flow.

Clukey said the first January meeting has been moved from the second Monday to Tuesday, Jan. 9 so the select board can attend the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council annual meeting at the Mill Cafe. This session has been rescheduled due to a snowstorm on Dec. 4.

Every year the PCEDC bestows the Warren “Pete” Myrick Community Service Award to recognize a Piscataquis County resident, business, or organization that exemplifies Myrick’s concern for and commitment to education, economic development and/or civic leadership in the region. Myrick, a Guilford resident who died in 2002, was a long-time educator in SAD 4 and one of the founders of the PCEDC.

Next month’s annual meeting will honor 2023 recipient Chris Maas, a resident of Dover-Foxcroft who has served on a number of boards in town and been involved with various organizations.

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