Sale of Old Brick Building not so easy

By Emily Butterfield

Contributing Writer

FRYEBURG — While voters decided on June 11 of this year to sell the Old Brick Building on 511 Main Street for $1.00 to the Fryeburg Historical Society, the process is not going as smoothly as hoped.

As Town Manager Sharon Jackson explained at last Thursday’s board of selectmen’s meeting, transferring ownership of the building will take time since the town must now find a new place to store all of its documents, many of which need very specific temperature and humidity controls to ensure their longevity. Some of these documents also contain confidential information like employee payroll.

Fryeburg Historical Society President Diane Jones asked if they would be allowed to paint the outside of the building, to which Town Manager Jackson refused, citing that the town would be liable if anyone got hurt. Meanwhile, Historical Society member Ed Jones asked if a key could be released so work could be done on the inside. This was also met with a refusal from Town Manager Jackson.

“There is no other place [right now] where we can keep those documents,” said Town Manager Jackson. “My not giving a key to Ed had nothing to do with not trusting him. I support the Historical Society, but the confidential information in there creates a problem for us.”

She also says that when the article was amended at the annual town meeting to sell the Old Brick Building to a specific entity, in this case the Historical Society, for $1.00, the problem of where to store the documents contained in the building arose. Some have suggested a storage building, but Town Manager Jackson says there are already enough storage buildings on the Town Office property. “We have to have an option that is not going to create an expense for the town.”

“Our intent is to transfer the building,” said Chairman Rick Eastman. “The town has been subjected to lawsuits from injuries and we have to be aware of that.” He also added that there is no date that the town must sign over the building, just that it will happen.

“I don’t think you have any idea what you’re costing us,” said Ed Jones, who says that they plan to turn the building into a doll museum. He also says they have offered the town the vault to keep some documents in, and that if they continue to “drag their feet,” beyond August 1, 2015, there will not be sufficient time for the Historical Society to get necessary renovations done.

Selectmen Janice Crawford offered a temporary solution that the Historical Society be allowed to take measurements of the inside of the building to allow for further planning, but due to law constraints no further work would be done.

The Board of Selectmen was adamant that a solution would be reached as soon as possible, but that it will take a little while longer. “That building is going to get a lot different than it is now. When you drive down over that hill you’re going to see something really nice,” Jones added.

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