Lubec officials are pushing a local nonprofit to repair dilapidated shoreline buildings after a float-away U.S. landmark caused an international furor last month.
Code Enforcement Officer Jimmy Clark sent a letter to Lubec Landmarks dated Feb. 5 advising that buildings on the McCurdy’s Smokehouse property on Lubec Narrows are “dilapidated to an extent and in a condition deemed dangerous” by state law.
The nonprofit organization owns McCurdy’s, which made news when the brining shed on the property floated off its moorings to Canada’s Campobello Island. The nation’s last traditional herring processing facility, the five McCurdy’s buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Landmarks President Rachel Rubeor raised ire on both sides of the border when she referred to scavengers who took remains of the building from the shoreline as vandals. She later apologized.
Clark said at least some of the buildings remaining on the site “represent a clear and present danger to public life, limb, navigation and public property.”
Clark’s action was prompted by selectmen’s concerns that other shoreline buildings could fall into the Narrows and become navigational obstacles to area fishing boats and other craft.
McCurdy’s was among four building sites targeted, according to town documents. Clark ordered the McCurdy’s problems abated by Feb. 28, but it seemed doubtful that they will be.
The building’s flaws haven’t been remedied yet, said Heather Henry Tenan, a former newspaper reporter who is writing grant applications for McCurdy’s.
During a Feb. 21 meeting, Selectwoman Joanne Case said it was unfair of the town to give Lubec Landmarks 23 days to repair the building’s problems. The other buildings targeted have been on the town’s radar for several months, she said during the same meeting.
It would take about $10,000 in court costs to press civil action, selectboard chairwoman Carol Dennison said, with no guarantee the town would win.
The owner of the Nordic Delights building, which is among those targeted, said it is difficult to maintain and repair buildings placed on stilts in salt water amid frequent rough weather.
“I’m in the middle of trying to do the best I can to straighten out this situation,” Robert Peacock said Tuesday. “I want it so that people can be employed there and it is not an eyesore.”
“The biggest asset and the biggest detriment is that it has been on salt water,” he added.
McCurdy’s being on the register makes its rehabilitation more challenging, Rubeor said in a letter to Clark.
“We cannot replace nor restore with less than what is deemed authentic or a reasonable facsimile” of the buildings’ historical attributes, she said.
Lubec Landmarks is awaiting word on several grant applications that would repair the buildings, Tenan said. Another site cited by Clark, a former shoe store called the Dodge building, was razed on Feb. 14.
The matter has been referred to town attorneys.
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