Work continues to fix Opera House

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NORWAY — Work is progressing in getting bids to stabilize the Opera House on Main Street.

“I’m working on Phase 2, getting the papers done for the state to find it satisfactory,” Town Manager David Holt said Wednesday.

The town has been awarded a $150,000 state grant to stabilize the three-story brick building in the heart of the downtown. The town must first submit paperwork, including another letter of support from the Historic Preservation group, and go through various processes with the Department of Economic and Community Development before the project can go out to bid.

A plan must also be submitted to the Planning Board for approval, Holt said.

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“Once it (the paperwork) gets signed and certified I’m hopeful we’re not too far away from going out to bid,” he said.

A portion of the Opera House roof collapsed on Sept. 21, 2007, due to the weight of water on the sagging roof. Some roof trusses let go and water from the roof and a broken sprinkler pipe flooded the building. Two engineering studies have deemed the structure “unsafe to the public and neighboring property.” Officials say the structure has continued to deteriorate causing not only an imminent unsafe situation downtown but an unfavorable economic one.

The town took control of the building over the winter through an eminent domain process in Oxford County Superior Court. Owner Barry Mazzaglia of Bitim Enterprises in New Hampshire has been fighting the $185,000 appraised value the town will most likely pay him. He bought the building in 2003 for $225,000.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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