MECHANIC FALLS — The Municipal Building sustained considerable damage, thanks to the one-two punch of late November wind and rain storms, Town Manager John Hawley told council members Monday.

“The flashing on the north corner of the building let go, and the rubber roof seal just peeled back,” Hawley said. “Last Wednesday, the library ladies came in early to set up and discovered water pouring in.” 

The dropped ceiling had fallen onto the book stacks, the plaster ceiling was falling on top of that, the 18 inches of insulation above that was a dripping sponge and he and police Chief Jeffrey Goss were standing ankle-deep on a submerged carpet.

“Apparently, the layer of felt under the old schoolroom floorboards held the water, let it spread out and kept it from leaking down into my office,” Hawley said.

On the roof, fire department personnel pulled the rubber membrane back in place, and the interior crew began bailing. ServiceMaster was there by noon and the work of reducing the weight load was underway.

Hawley had no figures on the damage. The insurance adjuster has been in. It is clear the insulation, ceiling, dropped ceiling and carpet will all have to be replaced. The policy has a $1,000 deductible.

About a third of the library’s total area is affected and they are still assessing the damage to books, Hawley said.

“Lucky they saw it when they did,” Hawley said. “No one was injured. The walls in my office, northwest corner of the building, were buckling. The weight is off now, but (the town will) probably have to have a structural engineer take a look.” 

The incident generated a general discussion of the physical state of the Municipal Building, which served as the town’s high school from 1928 to the mid-to-late 60s, and which was renovated ten years ago thanks to proceeds of an $800,000 bond with a twenty-year term.

The improvements included an elevator and a sprinkler system, as well as energy efficiency and cosmetic improvements.

No real structural work was done, as evidenced by cracks in walls throughout the building and no floors that are completely flat.

“At some point, we’re going to have to do something with this building,” Hawley said. “It’s a money pit of a building; it won’t get any better.” 

In other business, the council gave final approval to the water department budget, which at $355,000 is about $19,000 less than the current budget. Noting that the recent switch in health insurance plans was estimated to same the town about $30,000, the council agreed to hold the town employees’ contribution to their health insurance costs at five percent, rather than increasing the contribution to ten percent.

Hawley also reported that the replacement parts for the wood pellet boiler are in the process of finally clearing U.S. Customs and should be delivered from Boston within a week.

He also noted the the Planning Board had decided against developing an ordinance aimed at preserving first floor commercial space in the downtown area but was proceeding with work on a measure to include a property maintenance code, intended as a tool to deal with foreclosed or abandoned properties, into the land use ordinance.

The Mechanic Falls Christmas Committee will welcome Santa into town at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, with a tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Mazie Keene Park.

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