PARIS — Former Norway Opera House owner Barry Mazzaglia testified Friday in court that he did everything he could to save the building from collapse following the partial roof failure of the historic downtown building in the fall of 2007.

“We were working in there from the crack of dawn until night every day to try to save that building,” Mazzaglia said in Oxford County Superior Court. Testimony was heard for the second day in the case that will determine how much the town of Norway must pay Mazzaglia for taking the building by eminent domain last year.

Mazzaglia contends the historic 1894 building is worth $328,000, according to an appraisal done for him by New Hampshire appraiser J. Chet Roger. The town maintains the building is worth $185,000, according to an appraisal by Patricia Amidon of Amidon Appraisal Co. in Portland.

Judge Robert Clifford will determine what compensation the town must pay Mazzaglia based on more than 12 hours of testimony.

Attorney James E. Belleau of the Auburn law firm of Skelton, Taintor & Abbott has been questioning witnesses on behalf of the town while Durward Parkinson of Bergen & Parkinson in Kennebunk questioned witnesses on behalf of the plaintiff Mazzaglia.

Last year, voters at a special town meeting authorized selectmen to take the Opera House by eminent domain after a portion of the roof collapsed on Sept. 21, 2007, severing a sprinkler pipe which flooded parts of the first floor and compromised the stability of the building.

The eminent domain move was initiated after attempts by the town to work with Mazzaglia to ensure the building was safe became nonproductive. The town has since stabilized the back wall of the building that showed signs of collapsing.

Mazzaglia said he went to the center of the building after the partial roof collapse and simply listened.

“I listened to the building. I knew the roof was failing,” Mazzaglia said.

Mazzaglia said he had engineering education but is not licensed as an engineer in Maine or New Hampshire, where his business and home are located. He said he initially received a $40,000 bid to repair the roof and trusses that had rotted, placing the back four-story brick wall in danger of collapse.

He said that price was too high.

Instead, with the help of a subcontractor, he decided to tackle the massive project himself. It took about four weeks over a year’s period to complete the work, he said.

“I knew the building,” he said while standing at a chalkboard in the courtroom testifying for an hour and 40 minutes about how he stabilized the building. He said he placed a value of $8,500 on his work, which included jacking up parts of the floors and placing lolly columns and plywood on the top floors to stabilize the back wall.

Mazzaglia said he put money into the building after he purchased it in 2003 for $225,000. He said he added a new roof, floors and other necessary improvements to rent out the six first-floor retail spaces that he thought would make the building purchase a profitable one. He charged rents up to $5,600 monthly for each storefront.

Mazzaglia also testified that despite putting on a new roof, it was still leaking.

“When it rained, it poured inside the building,” he said.

Mazzaglia said when the town took over the building, they used much of the work he had done as a basis for their repairs which have already cost more than $230,000.

Paul Chabot of Chabot Construction in Greene, who completed the stabilization project on the back wall for the town, told the court that when he saw the building, even with the repairs Mazzaglia had made, it was “dangerous” and “ready for collapse.”

He testified that if the work had not been done the way the town engineer requested, there was a real threat that the back wall would collapse entirely, possibly pushing the front walls out as well as collapsing the floors.

Judge Robert Clifford is expected to render a decision early next week.

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