Selectmen to inspect community hall

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OTISFIELD — Selectmen unanimously agreed Wednesday to walk around the Otisfield Community Hall to determine essential maintenance requirements.

The board will look over the hall at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. One assessment estimated it would cost $329,518 to make several repairs to the building. At a public hearing last month, the majority of about 50 residents attending supported having a community hall in town, but differed as to whether it would be better to repair the hall or build a new one.

The community hall was built in the 1920s and later deeded to the town by a private owner. It has hosted several public events, including dances, bake sales and town meetings.

The assessment, conducted by Fish Street Design of Fryeburg and The H.L. Turner Group of Concord, N.H., makes several recommendations to bring the building up to code. These include improving the floor and roof load-bearing capabilities, replacing windows and siding, upgrading the kitchen, and installing insulation to allow four-season use. The assessment also suggests that the building could be moved back from Route 121 to provide improved parking and access.

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Selectman Rick Micklon said the price of renovating the building could be higher due to fluctuating building costs. He suggested that renovation work could be started on fixing the exterior of the building and regrading some of the road around it, to be followed by the replacement of doors, windows, kitchen appliances and other materials.

Chairman Hal Ferguson said the town office is the only municipal building in town where groups can convene to hold meetings. He said this can lead to difficulties in providing space for different meetings, and that it would be helpful to have a second location available.

Selectman Lenny Adler said he supports maintaining the community hall, but advocated the repair of a downstairs room at the town office to provide additional meeting space. He said that opinion at the hearing was split between people in favor of fixing the hall and people in favor of replacing it, and sinking a significant amount of money into renovations could exclude the input of the latter group.

An electrical assessment of the building recommended $5,175 in upgrades, the largest being $2,100 of work to the kitchen. One concern raised at the public hearing questioned the safety of the floor, but Micklon said an inspector determined that it is properly supported and would only need additional floor joists to eliminate some of its springiness.

“As far as he’s concerned, it’s appropriately frost-protected and stable,” Micklon said of the blocks propping up the structure.

The selectmen also said they would determine whether they need public approval to appropriate reserve account funds that could go toward upgrades. Two accounts could be applied directly to renovations, and together they have $62,323.

mlangeveld@sunjournal.com

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