PITTSFIELD, Maine — Town councilors Tuesday night approved emergency repairs that should allow the closed Pittsfield Community Theater to open by spring.
The first phase of the project will involve installing concrete reinforcing columns along the outside walls of the theater and new steel I-beams across the ceiling. It will cost $100,000, according to estimates provided by Michael Young of Sewall Co.
“The news last month was grim,” Young told the council, referring to a report that the roof was unsafe and compromised which prompted the Town Council to immediately close the theater.
Young said the first phase of the repairs will allow the theater to reopen even though that will still not bring the roof up to state building codes. The columns will bring the maximum load weight to 50 pounds per square inch, while state regulations require that it be 70 pounds per square inch.
The theater will be allowed to reopen as long as the town is pursuing a second phase, to bring the structure into full compliance, Young said.
Eighteen seats will be lost to make way for the columns.
The second phase will involve removal of the current roof and installation of an insulated rubber roof that would meet state requirements. That project would be $60,000, he said.
“This is a lot better than we thought,” Town Manager Kathryn Ruth said.
Councilors also authorized town officials to immediately seek bids.
Young said the actual work on the columns would take about two months but that ordering the steel I-beams could hold the project up.
In other business, the council:
— Approved the 2009 $3.7 million operating and capital budgets.
— Approved an increase in sewer fees from $2.25 per 1,000 gallons to $3.25 per 1,000 gallons — a 48 percent increase — to fund sewer upgrades and pay for a loan taken out this year for a study of the sewer system. The rate hike would also pay for future studies regarding the wastewater treatment plant lagoon and a systemwide survey of users.
— Established sewer and water reserve accounts to fund future projects.
— Signed a new one-year contract with the Somerset Humane Society in Skowhegan to accept stray cats and dogs at $437.50 per month, a 7 percent increase. The fee is equal to $1.25 per capita.