NORWAY — Selectmen say they are ready to act on a land donation that is necessary to move the Gingerbread House farther up Main Street.

Selectmen are expected to set a special town meeting for Feb. 18 to get voter approval to have the 0.31 parcel transferred to the Norway Landmarks Preservation Commission, a nonprofit organization that has been created by the friends of the Gingerbread House as a fundraising agent.

The commission has $277,000 to be used in the move and limited renovation of the building.

Ferg Lea, planning director of the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, has expressed reservations about giving the land to the nonprofit group outright without knowing whether the project will come to fruition. He suggested giving a deed based on the group achieving certain goals.

Town Manager David Holt said the simpler approach is to give them the land outright.

“I want to see it work. I personally worry about putting too many restrictions on (the project),” Holt said.

Selectmen agreed. “I don’t want to create any more barriers to them,” Russ Newcomb said.

Pat Shearman, chairman of the Gingerbread House Task Force, told the board that if the organization dissolves, “I’m stating publicly it (the land) would go back to the town.”

Ellen Gibson, another task force member, said the restoration of the building will go hand in hand with downtown economic development.

“I think it’s an important economic move,” she said. Except for the mover, which is a Maine company, all work on the project will be done by local companies and individuals, she said.

The Gingerbread House, situated near the intersection of Main Street and Pikes Hill Road, is owned by C’s Inc., which is a real estate holding company affiliated with Sun Media Group, publisher of the Sun Journal and Advertiser-Democrat. The owners agreed last year to delay demolition of the large historic home if a grassroots organization of volunteers could successfully find a way to move it.

Members of the task force staked the new site in December using nearby land from Maine Department of Transportation, the town of Norway and the building owner, C’s Inc. However, questions arose as to how to legally transfer the land to the Gingerbread House group and how long it would take to get the approval from the state to obtain its parcel.

The Department of Transportation must go through a fairly lengthy process to deed the property over. That is expected to happen this spring.

Plans still call for moving the 80- by 20-foot house this spring.

Originally known as the Evans-Cummings House, the three-story home with its octagonal tower has graced the entrance to Norway from the north since 1851. Its builder was Richard Evans, who was considered an important contractor who also built the Nash house on Pleasant Street and the passenger railroad station at South Paris. The Gingerbread House is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Plans have been under development for the past several years to save the building by various organizations including Norway Downtown, the Norway Historical Society, the Gingerbread Task Force and Steering Committee, the town of Norway, Norway Water Department, Maine Department of Transportation and others.

If the committee is successful, long-range plans will be determined, but members have already agreed the building must be self supporting.

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