NORWAY — The Board of Selectmen has agreed to continue its efforts to apply for a downtown revitalization grant of up to $600,000, which could be used for the Opera House on Main Street. However, some members say they are doing so cautiously because they don’t want to own the vacant downtown edifice any longer than necessary.

“The key thing finally is what we have to pay. How deep are we into the project?” Selectman Russ Newcomb asked, referring to the amount of money the town will have to pay former owner Barry Mazzaglia of Bitim Enterprise for taking the property by eminent domain last year.

The town stepped in to take the three-story brick building after engineers declared it was unsafe due to a partial roof collapse in September 2007. Last fall the town paid to have part of the back wall replaced to stabilize it.

Meanwhile, the board was given an opportunity to apply for the $600,000 Community Development Block Grant for Norway downtown properties, but the long-term application process means the town would have to own the Opera House longer than initially intended.

“Do we want to keep sitting on the Opera House or do we want to put it out there?” asked Newcomb of the board’s plans to transfer ownership to a nonprofit organization or developer as soon as possible after paying the former owner.

If the grant application is successful, the town would have to come up with 25 percent of the $600,000 or about $150,000. The money could be garnered from a number of different places, including other grant money that downtown property owners or the town might access.

Officials say the grant might be used for work on the Lajos Matolcsy Arts Center, which initiated the application submission discussion, the Norway Opera House, Gingerbread House, Norway Memorial Library and perhaps other downtown properties in the future.

Selectman Warren Sessions said he favored going ahead with the application process saying, “I think it really should be done. It’s a lot of money.”

But Newcomb was not the only member of the board concerned about holding on to the Opera House.

“Mentally I can’t move ahead with this because we haven’t paid the former owner for it,” Selectmen Chairman Irene Millett said.

The board agreed to allow Holt to continue to gather information for a possible application submission while the eminent domain process continues, for the near future at least.

“There’s no real cost for the first few months except time,” Holt said of the process.

As for paying the owner, the town and Mazzaglia failed to reach a settlement agreement on the building’s worth last fall and a hearing to determine that amount is expected this spring before a judge in Oxford County Superior Court.

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