Fryeburg selectmen consider Red Brick Building options

By Emily Butterfield

Contributing Writer

FRYEBURG — Options for alternative storage for items contained in the Old Brick Building on Main Street were discussed at the last selectmen’s meeting on August 20. Town voters approved the sale of the building to the Historical Society for $1.00 back in June at the Annual Town Meeting.

Before the town is able to complete the sale, they must find another place to store all of the vital town records that must be kept forever, and also confidential records, many of which are currently in the locked vault in the Old Brick Building. Since many of the original items are very old, humidity, temperature control, and an area where a fireproof vault can be kept, must all be considered before moving the documents and completion of the sale.

In addition to the documents, there are miscellaneous items such as chairs, desks, a copier machine and other small items, according to Town Manager Sharon Jackson. “It may not make some people happy with what I’m saying, but I do not feel that we should have a hardship due to having to sell this building,” She stated.

The option put forth was to use the current room that selectmen hold meetings in as storage space, and to move all future meetings to the American Legion Hall. Town Manager Jackson said that this would still create an issue because all the equipment used to record the meetings would either have to be boxed up and moved to the Legion Hall and then moved back to the Town Office, or permanently kept at the Legion Hall, which is often rented out to anyone who wants to use it for an event. “We would have to ‘cage in’ the equipment so that nobody could touch it.” All Planning Board meetings and committee meetings would also have to be held at the Legion Hall.

Town Manager Jackson says the town is much too large now for the space its offices occupy. “We have outgrown, by a long shot, the spaces that we have. We have a lot of empty spaces all over town but a lot of them are not conducive to working together,” she said.

Not all of the space in the town office could be used for storage, however. Some space would have to be dedicated to meetings with clients and staff meetings, since there is no other area designated for that.

All of this would hinge, said Town Manager Jackson, on the vault of the Brick Building remaining there permanently. It would not be shared with the Historical Society as it was when the building was leased to them in the past. The items in the vault are mainly very old items that cannot be handled because of their age, but the town must keep them. This would only be until the town is able to find another place to store the items.

As for the confidential documents, those could be kept in the fireproof file cabinets that are in the town office, which right now hold non-confidential items that would also have to be moved.

To move all of the necessary items, the Town Office would have to be closed for one day and the Public Works Department would also have to be available to transport all of the records. Town Manager Jackson says that Fryeburg Fair week is one of the slowest weeks for the Town Office and that it could be done then.

However, resident Judy Redding felt that the Historical Society was being unfair…“seems to me it’s being pushed by a society that has no right to be pushing. They don’t need it…when they had the brick building it was only open twice a week for three hours.” Redding also felt that the town should not use the vault and that “the town should keep things to themselves until a situation has been set up.”

Selectmen will look into the issue further if the Historical Society is in agreement on the vault being used by the town in the Old Brick Building. The next selectmen’s meeting will be held Sept. 3, at the town office.

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