NORWAY — Town Manager David Holt told the Board of Selectmen on Thursday night that the town will apply for more than $400,000 in grant money to help restore the Opera House storefronts. 

The Norway Opera House Corp. will raise the necessary $400,000 match requirement, he said.

“It’s an awful lot of money but no one ever said this building wasn’t going to cost a lot of money,” Holt said. His comments were made during a public hearing to outline the use of the Communities for Maine’s Future Bond funds that will be used for the storefronts on Main Street.

The success of the application depends upon the state approving the town’s comprehensive plan, Holt said.

The comprehensive plan was not certified by the state, Holt said. The committee members worked on it for more than two years.

Because the standards for acceptance are different now, and some of the information has changed, Holt said he and others have updated the document and submitted it. A public hearing will be held on the amended plan June 28.


Without the state’s approval of the plan, the application for the highly competitive funds will not be processed, he said.

Holt said if the funding does come through, the tentative plan would be to sell the Opera House to the Norway Opera House Corp. for $1 and use the grant money to fix up the storefronts by the next summer. Work includes plumbing, electrical, mold removal, new doors and bathrooms, sprinklers and other items. The corporation could then rent the storefronts if they chose to.

Last year, voters authorized selectmen to take the 1984 three-story brick edifice by eminent domain because it was considered a public hazard. A portion of the sagging roof collapsed Sept. 21, 2007, under the weight of water. The entire building was flooded and its stability compromised.

The back wall of the Opera House has been stabilized but the interior of the building has not been untouched.

Last October, the town and former owner Barry Mazzaglia of Bitim Enterprises in Londonderry, N.H., failed to agree on what the town should pay for the building so a hearing is set in Oxford County Superior Court this summer.

Voters, in addition to approving the comprehensive plan, must accept the 2004 Norway Downtown Plan to be eligible for the grant money.

“No one said any of this would be easy,” Holt said.

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