Pittsfield council OKs repairs for library, theater

Posted Jan. 20, 2009, at 11:19 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — Pittsfield town councilors and others Tuesday praised the recent renovation project at the Pittsfield Public Library.

The council held a public hearing to gather comments on the project, which was funded partially by a state Community Development Block Grant of $150,000, and which was completed last month. The work was required after rotting underpinnings, walls and timbers were discovered in the basement floor, which was used for the book collection, a reference center and the children’s activity area. Water had seeped through the library’s foundation.

“Not only does it look beautiful and fresh, but it certainly smells better too,” Councilor Donna Chale said.

Library fundraising chairman Ann McGowan said that when the damage was discovered in late 2007 “It was most discouraging,” since she was in the midst of a capital campaign for a major expansion and renovation of the historic library.

“The CDBG was great,” she said. “We are now on our way.”

Doug Frati, the library’s building chairman, monitored the repairs.

“Extensive and thorough waterproofing was done and the entire downstairs was gutted,” he said. “It is now a dry, clean, warm space.”

Former Councilor Michael Gray urged the council to continue funding and supporting the renovation and expansion.

A second public hearing, which elicited no comments, was held to accept a $32,200 grant for the Pinnacle Park recreation plan. That project will expand the ski park to include walking trails, a skateboard park, an ice-skating rink, an expanded parking area, a boat launch, habitat restoration and bird-watching lean-tos.

Town Manager Kathryn Ruth called the program “fun and exciting.”

The grant was awarded by the state Riverfront Community Development Bond Program and work is expected to start in late spring and be completed this summer.

The council also accepted a bid of $79,555 from Bowman Bros. Inc. of Newport for structural repair work at the Pittsfield Community Theater. The theater has been closed since fall when it was determined the roof was not structurally sound. The repairs include putting reinforcing steel beams across the ceiling of the theater and stabilizing the canopy outside.

The lowest bidder, Fellis Construction of Mariaville failed to submit the correct paperwork with its bid and therefore was disqualified. That company’s bid was $71,525.

Ruth said the work should be completed by April and allow for reopening of the community theater.

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