East Millinocket selectmen considering second offer on former elementary school

A developer from Augusta wants to turn the former Opal Myrick Elementary School into an apartment complex for vacationers. Another local resident has also offered a proposal for the building.
A developer from Augusta wants to turn the former Opal Myrick Elementary School into an apartment complex for vacationers. Another local resident has also offered a proposal for the building. Buy Photo
Posted May 21, 2013, at 3:04 p.m.
Last modified May 21, 2013, at 7:23 p.m.
A developer from Augusta wants to turn the former Opal Myrick Elementary School into an apartment complex for vacationers. Another local resident has also offered a proposal for the building.
A developer from Augusta wants to turn the former Opal Myrick Elementary School into an apartment complex for vacationers. Another local resident has also offered a proposal for the building. Buy Photo

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EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Town leaders say they want to ensure that they have the best offer before they sell the former Opal Myrick Elementary School for $1.

Selectmen agreed during a meeting at the town office on Monday to delay selling the building until they had entertained other offers. They asked that a town meeting be scheduled for June 4 at which residents can vote on whether to sell the building.

“We don’t want to just throw the school out to whoever wants it. My goal is to see that the building is saved,” said Clint Linscott, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

Board members also desire, and might be required, to get voters’ approval of the transaction and want to move quickly on the transaction, Linscott said.

“We want to do what’s best for the town. We have two offers on the table and if we prolong any longer we end up pushing further into summer,” Linscott said Tuesday. “It’s hard to start a construction project when you have to pay heating costs.”

Selectmen met with resident Hollis Hafford and real estate agent Charlie Theriault of Prudential Northeast Properties of Bangor in executive session for about 45 minutes during Monday’s selectman’s meeting.

Theriault said he has shown the building to three prospective buyers but counted two offers as possible. More people have expressed interest in seeing the building, he said.

Hafford presented a proposal to buy the building.

Built on Beech Street in 1926-27, Opal Myrick originally was Garret Schenck Jr. High School. As the town grew, a new high school was built and named after the Schenck family for its role in founding the Katahdin region paper mills and the building was renamed Opal Myrick School in memory of the longtime town teacher and principal.

The School Committee voted 5-0 in April 2011 to close the school. Board members cited a declining student population, the closure of the paper mill on Main Street and an anticipated massive re-evaluation of the mill.

East Millinocket school Superintendent Quenten Clark estimated at the time that the closure of Myrick would save $150,000 in operational costs alone. He listed several problems with the building that make it costly to run or renovate, including asbestos floor tiles, a lack of disability access and an aging heating system that consumed about 16,000 gallons of heating oil.

The mill has since reopened under new ownership and Myrick students moved into a wing of Schenck High School in September 2011.

Realtor and Augusta resident Debbie Dawson is in talks with town officials of buying the building to turn it into a 15-apartment complex with a laundry folding service.

Under Dawson’s proposal, she would live in the building while catering to clients who would pay $34,999 for a lifetime lease of an apartment in which they could stay for as many as 185 days a year.

Her plan is modeled after apartment complexes such as Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco but would be much more moderately priced, she said.

After Monday’s meeting, Dawson said she was eager to get into the building.

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