Wanted: Uses for former grade school in Mattawamkeag

Posted July 31, 2011, at 7:24 p.m.

MATTAWAMKEAG, Maine — With maintenance costs of the former Dr. Carl Troutt School hovering close to $50,000 annually, town leaders need to find enough uses for the building to justify the expense.

That was the message from Edward Richard Jr., a member of the Board of Selectman who is helping form a committee to examine how to revitalize the building.

“We can’t really afford to keep a place like that going,” Richard said Sunday. “We have to find a use for it.”

Richard will discuss the committee’s formation during a board meeting on Monday. He said he has several candidates that he might approach to join the committee. Several people have also expressed interest in joining it. Anyone interested in joining the committee should call the Town Office at 736-2464.

Troutt was one of the oldest, least-populated and most expensive school buildings to maintain in RSU 67 when school and town officials agreed to close it in 2009. The facility had 49 students during the 2008-2009 school year, while the Ella P. Burr School of Lincoln, the district’s other elementary school, served 392, school officials have said.

On May 19, 2009, 114 residents voted no on the question of whether they wanted to keep Troutt open for another year. Doing so would have cost the town $367,163. Sixty-five people voted yes. RSU 67 serves Mattawamkeag, Chester and Lincoln.

Lincoln resident James Whitney, a carpenter, is working with his brother John on a plan to turn the building into a regional senior and recreational center for people ages 50 and older, he said Sunday. They have already formed a nonprofit corporation toward that end.

“The grounds itself are good for everything we want and the area could use something like this,” Whitney said Sunday.

The Whitneys will meet with the committee, hopefully at its first meeting, James Whitney said.

The committee will also hear from an area woman who hopes to use space within the school as a headquarters for her efforts to create a nature trail running from Mattawamkeag into Aroostook County, Richard said.

The building already gets some usage. Two music groups perform there every other Thursday and Friday, Richard said. He is optimistic that the building can be kept going.

“There are a lot of possibilities,” Richard said, “things it could be used for.”

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