WARREN, Maine — Parishioner Nancy Bryant jumped for joy when auctioneer Thomas Saturley announced that the Warren Baptist Church was the successful bidder for the former Warren Primary School.
With a $100,500 bid, the church outdueled Kaja Veilleux of Thomaston Place Auction Galleries for the 9,600-square-foot brick building that sits on 5 acres adjacent to the church.
Proceeds of the sale will be divided between the town and developer Robert Emery Jr. to settle a lawsuit he filed when the town, which owns the property, reneged on an agreement in 2010 to sell the lot to him after it learned he was going to lease it for use as a methadone clinic.
Residents voted overwhelmingly in November to approve the settlement with Emery. The agreement called for the former school to be auctioned with 60 percent of the net proceeds going to Emery and 40 percent to the town.
The church has no definitive plans for the land, although trustee Peter Armstrong pointed out that the church lot is small and has little parking. The church has a congregation of about 125 people.
The church has 45 days to close on the deal.
The church and Veilleux were the only two groups to bid. Several town officials attended to watch the auction held inside the former school.
The building was constructed in 1963 and was originally Warren High School. It then became an elementary school after Medomak Valley High School opened in 1968. School Administrative District 40 turned the property over to the town in 2007 after it stopped using it.
At a special town meeting in September 2013, residents overwhelmingly approved spending $60,000 to demolish the former school building. That demolition, however, was put on hold at the advice of the town’s attorney in response to Emery’s lawsuit filed in early 2013.
Another lawsuit by CRC Health Group, which originally planned to lease the property from Emery, remains active in U.S. District Court. No trial date has been scheduled for that case, in which CRC claims the town discriminated against it because it wanted to offer a clinic to treat opiate addicts.