The Rumford Public Works Department began this week tearing down the damaged Linnell Motel at 986 Prospect Ave. It was the scene of a major fire in May 2015 and has deteriorated since, Town Manager Stacy Carter said. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — The fire-damaged Linnell Motel is being taken down by the Public Works Department this week and next, per order of selectmen.

The T-shaped building at 986 Prospect Ave. was heavily damaged by fire in May 15, 2015, and has continued to deteriorate, Town Manager Stacy Carter said.

On April 1, selectmen voted unanimously to reject an effort by former owner Tony Brettkelly of TBK Maine Properties of California to redeem the property the town took for years of unpaid taxes.

“Mr. Brettkelly’s letter talked about a plan to develop it, but that was with the existing structures, which I don’t find feasible,” Carter said. “And because of his lack of work on the property, I find it hard to believe that somebody who hasn’t been able to make a one-year payment is going to be able to make four years payment, clean it up and develop it in a timely fashion.”

Carter said Brettkelly owed around $22,000 in back taxes, $3,400 in sewer fees and $5,866 for this year to bring it current.

Brettkelly was notified the property went into automatic foreclosure and sent an email that he wished to redeem it.

“So it was very clear to him that in order to redeem the property, generally, at the discretion of the board, the practice has been that they need to pay the entire amount by April 1, which would have to include this new year,” Carter said.

He said there are piles of rubble, structures full of mold and a large section of roof that collapsed more than a year ago.

“We had an abutting neighbor come into my office and make a complaint about the smell that was coming from that property,” Carter said. “He said that anytime that the wind blows from that property towards his, that he cannot be outside. He’s had some medical issues.”

The Linnell Motel in Rumford was the scene of a major fire in May 2015. Sun Journal file photo

Carter said Brettkelly has owned the property since the end of 2017 and hasn’t done anything other than allowing it to continue to deteriorate.

“I recommend that we maintain the property, clean it up ourselves so that the neighbors aren’t getting sick, we get rid of the blight, and we get a new owner that’s actually going to develop it,” he said. “We have a lot of needs and wants for this community, and that’s really a prime site that can bring something good here.”

There is $178,123 in the demolition account, with another $55,000 to be added at the annual town meeting in June, he said.

Selectman Peter Chase asked if the property, which is in the floodplan, can be developed.

“It’s my understanding that the property where the motel is now would have to be brought up a foot to be able to develop it, according to someone who was looking at it,” the town manager said.

Board Chairman Chris Brennick motioned to reject Brettkelly’s request. The motion was passed unanimously.

The back buildings that are intact will remain, Carter said.

Fire Chief Chris Reed said his department wanted use the front part of the motel for training on searches and opening up the roof, but not burning it.

“I wouldn’t want to miss that opportunity,” he said, “plus it would … be less debris to move.”


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