NORWAY — The Town of Norway is looking for ideas to reuse the former Streaked Mountain School on lower Main Street.

“We don’t really want to list it for sale,” Town Manager Dennis Lajoie said. But what to do with it, is currently up for grabs.

Last September, the SAD 17 Board of Directors declared the school building at 160 Main Street, “unnecessary for educational purposes” and authorized Superintendent Rick Colpitts to dispose of it as surplus property.

The Town of Norway was given first option for the former school building.

The disposal of the building is dictated by state law which requires a school district to offer the return of a building that was in the town’s possession before the district was formed.

A similar example happened in recent years when the Mildred M. Fox School was deemed surplus and offered back to the Town of Paris. Paris did take the building and sold it to a developer. In January 2018, the town sold the building to Avesta Housing for $125,000.

If the town had declined to accept the building, the school district could have offered the building for sale at market price.

With the building now in possession of the town, Lajoie said enough conversation has occurred to realize that town office staff has no use for the space, but the hope is others will.

“We don’t need town office space or a recreation building,” Lajoie said of possible reuses for town hall staff.

Lajoie said he hopes other organizations, businesses or individuals will come forward with ideas that will retain the historic nature of the building while utilizing it in an interesting way under a lease or purchase agreement.

The building is one of half a dozen of the original one-room schoolhouses that once dotted the town. Built in the mid to late 1800s, it was known as the Lower Primary School and has been used as a school house since that time, except periodically in recent years.

It was used as a public school until 2008. It then sat vacant until the school district re-opened it to move students involved in the Streaked Mountain School programs that had previously been housed in other school buildings.

But early last year when some SAD 17 directors toured the building, it was agreed that the time had come to close the school doors and move the staff and the 20 or so students who were housed there for two programs to a more updated facility. Frozen pipes and heating issues were some of the problems the building continued to have while occupied.

By March of 2018, the  Board of Directors authorized Colpitts to enter into a contract for leased space to house the Streaked Mountain School in Norway, near the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, but the new space proved too expensive to renovate under restrictions placed on educational space by the state Maine Department of Education.

Students were then moved to new space in the former Verizon Office at the strip mall across the street from the Oxford Comprehensive High School in Paris last fall.

Meanwhile the old school building has been shut down for the winter. All fluids were  drained from pipes, but electricity is still on, said Lajoie.

Lajoie said he hopes to reach out to organizations such as the Norway Historical Society and Norway Downtown first to see if they have any interest in the building. But, he noted, there may be a number of people or organizations that might come up with a unique and fitting way to reuse the building such as an art gallery or other start-up business.

It could be sold, and possibly with appropriate deed restrictions to retain the historical integrity of the building, or it could be leased.

Because it has never generated taxes for the town, it is not a financial loss if it is leased out, he said.

Anyone who is interested in the building should contact Lajoie at the Town Office during normal business hours.

[email protected]

 


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