May 23, 2018
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Presque Isle approves plan to demolish part of old Tater Meal site

By Kathy McCarty, Presque Isle Star-Herald

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — City Council has unanimously approved a plan by McCain Foods to demolish Building 402, citing the cost of repairs, a lack of interest and demand for a portion of the property that once served as the Tater Meal facility at the Industrial Park.

“The decision to demo 402 was based on a review of cost estimates for repairs, future costs to upgrade the building to meet current codes, the lack of interest or demand for such a large structure, and its overall poor condition and date of construction (in 1942),” according to a memo written by the executive director of the city’s industrial council to councilors and the city manager.

The industrial council, a quasi-municipal agency created to manage the former PI Air Force Base property, owns the building that housed the former McCain Tater Meal facility. Under a previous lease agreement between the city and McCain Foods, the building was to be restored to its original condition.

Executive Director Larry Clark explained in his memo to the city, however, that members of the industrial council deliberated with McCain representatives over several meetings before both parties agreed to the demolition of the building.

City Manager Jim Bennett told councilors at their regular meeting June 16 that he and the city’s attorney were “comfortable with the plan.”

“The cost (for demolition) is being covered 100 percent by McCain,” Councilor Dick Engels said. He, along with Councilor Randy Smith, serves as a member of the industrial council’s board. That will save the city an estimated $250,000 in demolition and abatement costs, he pointed out.

In doing an inspection of the facility, Engels noted there were several issues that would have required significant repairs or upgrades.

“There were a number of support beams that were twisted. It needs a new roof, siding. Once you take the old siding off, then there are asbestos issues. It’s too expensive to renovate,” he said.

Smith said the property would be more valuable with the building gone.

Engels agreed the industrial site and has more value with the structure removed.

“As long as someone wants to use it as an industrial site, they can use the slab that’s there. It shouldn’t be a problem,” Engels said. “The city should be grateful to McCain’s for living up to their responsibility.”

Councilors then voted to approve McCain Foods’ plan to demolish the building, as specified in Clark’s memo. Soderberg Construction, of Caribou, won the bid for the project.

City Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Monday, July 7, at City Hall.


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