PARIS — Town officials said Monday evening that the potential costs of a free building could influence what they end up doing with it. 

At a workshop Monday evening, selectmen discussed the possibility of taking over the Mildred M. Fox School. Selectmen asked Town Manager Amy Bernard to move forward with getting a handle on the expenses associated with renovating the building in order to make it code compliant. 

Town officials tossed around a variety of ideas for the building’s future use, including a business incubator, an arts and community center, retrofitting it and converting it into apartments, a new home for the Norway-Paris Community Television station and turning existing private parking into municipal lots. 

Yet the deal could have hidden costs which town officials are trying to discover. In order to bring the building up to code, an elevator, some new wiring and an updated sprinkler system would probably need to be installed, according to fire Chief Brad Frost. 

In December, selectmen authorized Bernard to approach school district officials with their interest in acquiring the building on 10 East Main St. As previously reported by the Advertiser Democrat, the district is required by state law to offer the town the opportunity to reacquire the building at no cost.  

Built in 1882, the three-story brick school house is currently occupied by the Oxford Hills Christian Academy, who leases it from the SAD 17 school district. While the district covers maintenance costs, the academy foots the bill for utilities, which run approximately $22,000 annually. Additionally, the district holds adult education classes in the building. 


Bernard said Monday evening that she will meet with officials at the academy Wednesday to discuss the town’s plans. 

In July, school district officials considered whether it was advisable to retain ownership of the building, which served as the home of the Paris Elementary School until 2007. 

In May, the school district signed a lease with the Western Maine University and Community College Center after first mulling over the idea of turning the building into its central offices. Before that, it was considered as a possible location to ease overcrowding at the middle school.

The district’s board of directors will meet in April on the matter. The town has until that meeting to decide. 

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