NORWAY – An engineering consultant has told the town that despite efforts by the Opera House owner to stabilize the three-story brick building, more work is needed before the public’s safety is assured.

The finding was part of a five-page report from Alfred Hodson III of Resurgence Engineering and Preservation of Portland that was released Tuesday by Town Manager David Holt.

A portion of the building’s roof collapsed on Sept. 21, severing a sprinkler pipe and flooding first-floor businesses. The 113-year-old building on Main Street serves as the anchor to the downtown National Historic District.

In the report, Hodson said owner Barry Mazzaglia of Bitim Enterprises in Londonderry, N.H., “must realize that to allow first-floor reoccupancy will involve more labor and materials than mere stabilization in order to ensure the safety of occupants and the public.”

The owners of the Colonial Coffee Shoppe are in the process of relocating on Main Street and the second occupant, Beauty Beyond, has relocated to a building owned by Mazzaglia in Paris.

In his report, Hodson said occupants of Woodman’s Sporting Goods store are safer now that the east wall of the Opera House appears to be stable. The little one-floor log cabin is only a few feet from that wall.

Hodson said that if the back wall next to Pennesseewassee Stream falls it may become necessary to vacate the gun shop and neighboring buildings since the wind could topple the exposed side wall.

He has said that the barriers that keep pedestrians from getting near the front of the building should remain until the roof loads are effectively transferred to the building foundation. That will require shoring posts from the basement through the first floor to the ceiling, Hodson said.

Once trees along the back wall exterior were removed on Oct. 10, Hodson said it revealed “extensive” exterior damage along the entire wall, so much so that Hodson said he was unable to work closely at the wall from the outside. Hodson has suggested that the uppermost portion of the masonry wall, at or above the level of the truss bottom chords, is unstable and should be removed and rebuilt. Until that happens he has recommended that the owner anchor it or stabilize it by debris netting. He has also recommended safety fencing to keep people away from the back of the building. He said fencing erected as of last week was unacceptable and has already fallen.

Hodson said Mazzaglia has expressed an interest to incorporate permanent repairs into the stabilization efforts to allow the first-floor spaces to reopen, providing him with additional funding to pay for the work involved in completely stabilizing the building.

Hodson said the request was reasonable, but it would involve greater labor and material expense, and a more comprehensive analysis and conformance with contemporary building codes.

Norway has no commercial building codes.

The consultant also recommended that the owner ensure that snow over 12 inches or more than six inches of ice be taken off the roof immediately this winter.

The building was constructed by the Norway Building Association in 1894 and was placed on the state’s Most Endangered Historic Properties list in 2003 by Maine Preservation of Portland. It’s tower encases an historic E. Howard clock.


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