Council opts to discontinue old Hampden Academy study, revise sale offer

Posted Sept. 04, 2012, at 10:32 p.m.

HAMPDEN, Maine — After finding that continued funding of an environmental evaluation of the old Hampden Academy property could approach the total cost of the cleanup itself, the Hampden Town Council opted to discontinue the study and revise the purchase terms.

In a 5-0 vote, the council voted to remove the $86,000 cash payment portion of the deal negotiated with SAD 22 — which includes Hampden, Winterport and Newburgh — for the sale of the 23-acre property upon which the old Hampden Academy and campus are located.

The deal also involves a swap of 65 acres of town-owned land adjacent to the campus of the new $51.6 million high school, which opened late last month, for the old Hampden Academy property. That portion of the deal remains intact.

Councilors were optimistic the revision would not affect the agreement.

“I have a good feeling that the council and SAD 22 will continue to collaborate successfully on the sale of the old Hampden Academy property,” said Councilor and Mayor Janet Hughes.

The revision comes on the heels of results from an environmental evaluation and survey conducted by Credere Associates of Westbrook, which show cleanup and demolition of the site could be a bit more than initially expected.

“They found tile and other building material containing asbestos — which wasn’t a danger to the children, but will make it more expensive to clean up — as well as paint containing PCB in the building, and that wasn’t expected,” said Hughes.

The paint was found mostly in noncommon areas like the boiler and electrical rooms, which were also covered with a rubberized membrane, according to Hughes.

“It was proposed to do additional sampling to determine the extent of the paint on concrete floors and what will have to be removed in the future,” Hughes said. “They projected an extra $23,000 in additional cost to do that, but the council decided not to take any action on that and not move forward.”

Councilors said they felt further environmental analysis was approaching a figure close to what it will actually cost to remove the hazardous materials.

So Councilor Andre Cushing made a motion to remove the $87,000 cash considerations portion of the sale in light of the environmental study considerations.

“This building has liabilities to the town of Hampden, which is why I support this motion to move this effort forward with purchase and sale agreement,” Cushing said.

“So there was no action taken on that proposal and we elected to remove the $86,000 cash portion of the offer to SAD 22 and move forward with the sale,” Hughes said.

Councilor Kristen Hornbrook abstained from the vote because she didn’t have updated information and didn’t want to vote without being up to speed on the study issues.

In other council business, councilors:

• Voted 6-0 in favor of selling a well-maintained, antique World War II-era Jeep that had been used sporadically as a brush truck by the fire department. The Jeep could fetch a good price since it is considered highly collectible.

• Approved the bid submitted from Darling’s Bangor Ford for a new F-250 pickup truck for the public works department by a 5-0 vote after Councilor Jeremy Williams had to leave early. The truck was purchased for $19,876 after an $11,000 trade-in allowance for the previous truck.

• Approved the $8,274 purchase of cutting edges for a town snowplow from Messer Equipment of Westbrook.

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