NORWAY – Opera House owner Barry Mazzaglia said Monday it will take more than $200,000 for him to consider selling the historic downtown building.

Last year, Selectman Bill Damon offered the New Hampshire businessman $200,000 of his money on behalf of Norway Downtown to purchase the three-story, brick building that sits in the heart of the town’s National Historic District.

Damon made the offer again at a selectmen’s meeting on Thursday, the day after the town won a restraining order against Mazzaglia that mandates he immediately take steps to secure the building and make repairs to stabilize the building.

“My offer is still there if he wishes to sell,” Damon said.
Mazzaglia, president of the New Hampshire-based Bitim Enterprises, said in a telephone interview Monday that he never received the initial offer and would not consider $200,000 a viable price today.

“I never got the offer,” Mazzaglia said.

Mazzaglia would not divulge how much money it would take to sell the building, but said he is open to discussion about the sale of the building.

Mazzaglia’s response that he never received an offer is contradictory to written statements he filed in Oxford County Superior Court earlier this year in which he claimed the town had been pressured by preservation committees to “harass” him and by a selectman whose purchase offer for what Mazzaglia said was “significantly less than its value,” was rejected.

The New Hampshire businessman now faces court action by the town in its attempt to ensure the public’s safety from what town officials believe is an unsafe building.

A portion of the Opera House roof collapsed on Sept. 21, 2007, severing a sprinkler pipe, flooding first-floor businesses and compromising the stability of the building.

Since that time, officials have grown increasingly concerned about the stability of the building and seemingly limited response from the owner.

Two engineering studies have deemed the structure to be “unsafe to the public and neighboring property.”

The town’s request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction was filed on Feb. 2 as a quick remedy to ensure the safety of the public from the vacant and “unstable” century-old Main Street building.

Scheduling problems delayed the hearing, according to court officials.
Officials were particularly concerned that heavy snow piling up on top of the building might cause a further collapse of the roof.

Mazzaglia, who did not appear at the Wednesday court hearing when Oxford Hills Superior Court Judge John Nivison granted the request for the restraining order, said he never received any notice of Wednesday’s hearing or the implementation of the restraining order.

Mazzaglia said that all work has stopped on the Opera House and that he believes it is stable.

Holt said the town attempted to work with Mazzaglia.

“We tried for a year. We were not successful in getting satisfactory repairs made,” he told the board at its meeting Thursday.

The motion for the preliminary injunction, which will essentially have the same effect as the temporary restraining order, is expected to be heard sometime in August, according to court clerk Donna Howe.

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