University system panel approves sale of USM’s Stone House

Students gather outside the Stone House in Freeport in this July 2013 file photo.
Students gather outside the Stone House in Freeport in this July 2013 file photo.
Posted Sept. 02, 2014, at 3:09 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 02, 2014, at 3:43 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A University of Maine System committee on Tuesday approved the sale of the Stone House, a century-old building located in the Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport that is owned and used by the University of Southern Maine. The system’s full board of trustees will vote whether to finalize the decision to sell the building at its meeting on Sept. 21 and 22.

The former residence, which was built in 1917 and donated to the university in 1984, is used by about 250 people for about 40 days per year, according to meeting materials. It would cost the university $8.5 million for “required maintenance and infrastructure improvements” and $75,000 to $110,000 per year thereafter to maintain it, those materials state. The building is valued at $1.15 million.

The building is used by the Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program, the Stonecoast Writers’ Conference and a summer program offered by the Kate Cheney Chappell ’83 Center for Book Arts.

Those programs will continue in a different location.

The UMS board of trustees’ finance, facilities and technology committee was scheduled to vote on the Stone House in June, but the vote was tabled to further involve the Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation in the decision.

Dick Campbell, the chief financial officer at USM, told the trustees that Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation supported the university’s decision to sell or transfer the building.

The committee also voted to:

— Replace the heating boilers and boiler room equipment at USM, which would cost up to $3 million.

— Upgrade Boardman Hall room 18, a laboratory at the University of Maine which is used for civil engineering courses, which will cost $610,000 and does not need to be voted on by the board of trustees.

— Renovate the first floor lecture halls in Little Hall at UMaine, which would cost up to $1.74 million.

— Rearrange and improve Wells Commons, a dining hall, in response to an increased number of students using the facility. These changes would cost $1.3 million.

Each of these items, except the upgrade of the laboratory in Boardman Hall, will need to be approved by the full board of trustees at their meeting later this month.

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