LINCOLN, Maine — A Bangor-based civil engineer will get as much as $7,500 to determine whether it is cheaper to replace the town Public Works Department garage or renovate it, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said Tuesday.
The Town Council voted 7-0 during its meeting Monday to hire Applebee Engineering P.A. of Bangor to conduct a feasibility and economic evaluation study. There was no discussion.
Applebee will spend about two months completely assessing the 40-year-old building to determine the costs associated with its repair, renovation or replacement, company principal Vinal Applebee said. He hopes to get started on the work within two weeks.
Applebee estimated that the job will cost about $6,000.
Councilors generally have agreed for years that the building needs renovation or replacement. The garage has or has had a leaky roof and its sides bleed heat because of a lack of insulation. It also lacks work space, a lunch area for workers and storage space.
But voters narrowly rejected replacing the garage with a new structure for $675,000 — which included $576,000 in bonds — in a November 2008 referendum. The vote was 1,175 to 1,117.
The garage is one of several town buildings councilors are considering replacing or building. They also are considering building the town’s first recreation and community center off Route 6 and relocating the town office. No plans have been voted on, nor have any timelines been set.
Applebee also is working for free helping the town site a skating pond on the community center land this winter and is discussing doing a formal site plan of the entire center, also for free as a community service, he said.
“I practically grew up in Lincoln,” he said.
The proposed Lincoln Community and Recreation Center would go on 11 acres off Route 6. Not counting expenses, more than $400,000 has been raised since the Lincoln Community Recreational Center Trust Fund was created in 2002.
The center’s construction has no timeline or estimated start date, but center construction cost estimates have gone as high as $6.7 million. Councilors have expressed interest in cutting back that ambitious design to something more manageable and Town Manager Lisa Goodwin has said she wants to see the skating pond on the center land to reignite interest in the community center plan.
In other council news Monday:
ä Councilors voted 7-0 to appoint Karen Lane, Christian Wilfert, Jennifer Rider and Candice Osborne to the 2010 Homecoming Committee. They also voted Kathleen Britton to the Ballard Hill Community Center Events Ad Hoc Committee by the same margin.
The Homecoming Committee coordinates the town’s annual homecoming ceremonies. The Ballard Hill committee is charged with finding uses for the community center to keep it viable.
Councilors chose during a meeting in August to keep the building open until June 30, 2010, the end of the fiscal year, but several expressed concerns that its lack of use made it too expensive to operate.
Citing the expense to heat and maintain the community center, the council narrowly avoided voting to close it during budget deliberations in June 2008. Several votes occurred before councilors, who try to avoid raising town taxes, chose to fund its operation.
At the time, the programs that used the town-owned building included Meals for Me, a Christian school, Head Start, a clothing bank and a few other civic groups that cater largely to low-income residents. The building also is available for private functions, such as weddings or parties, but is seldom rented for those.
Today, the meals program remains at the building, and is charged no rent, Recreation Department Director Ron Weatherbee has said. The town recreation programs also use it as a computer game room year-round and for arts and crafts in the fall. All the other users have moved out, he said.
The building’s maintenance costs, age, energy inefficiency and lack of use are problems. Some seniors who use the building lament the building’s inefficiency, but said they feared that they would have nowhere to go if the building closed.
ä Councilors voted 7-0 to create a skateboard park ad hoc committee. The committee is charged with working with police and town recreation department officials to create a skateboard park.
Members of the group of residents that had been trying to create a park had considered siting one at Ballard Hill, but opted not to after hearing expert advice that such parks are best kept out of residential neighborhoods.
Former Police Chief William Flagg originated the idea of a skateboard park earlier this summer, saying it was the most pragmatic way to solve the problems caused by town youths skateboarding downtown.