December 13, 2018
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Ellsworth residents want to stop historic firehouse from being torn down

Bill Trotter | BDN
Bill Trotter | BDN
The former Ticonic 4 firehouse, at left, shows signs of disrepair on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. Webber Group, which owns the Route 1A building and the warehouse to the left, has obtained a permit from the city to demolish the two buildings, alarming some residents who say the company had promised to maintain the historic firehouse and that it should be preserved.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Some residents are trying to stop the planned demolition of a local old firehouse that they say is a historic structure that should be preserved.

The vacant Ticonic 4 firehouse on Route 1A is owned by Webber Group, which used to own and operate gas stations and a home heating fuel business before selling those divisions off over the past decade. Webber has applied for and received a permit from the city to demolish the building, which dates from the late 1800s, but an abutting landowner has filed an appeal of the issuance of the permit.

The company, in response, has decided to hold off on starting any demolition of the building, according to Lori Roberts, the city’s deputy code enforcement officer. Webber has agreed to wait until the city’s appeals board reviews the matter Monday, Oct. 22, to see if it will be allowed to to proceed with tearing it down, Roberts said Thursday.

Webber officials did not return a voicemail message seeking comment Wednesday.

Judy Blood, who lives next door to the historic building, said Wednesday that when Webber bought it 13 years ago from the city for $5,000, the company promised the city that it would maintain the structure, which it has not done. She said she and her husband considered buying the property at the time, in order to preserve it, but decided not to after Webber said it would keep the building in good shape.

“I feel it is important for them to live up to their word,” Blood said. “Anyone could have paid $5,000 and let the building [fall into disrepair].”

Blood said she so far has collected more than 400 signatures from people who support preserving the historic building, though she has not submitted the list of names to the city. She said she doesn’t know how much work the building needs to bring it out of its current state of decay.

“It needs a lot more money to maintain it than it would have” if Webber had properly taken care of the building over the past dozen years, Blood said.

Terri Cormier of the Ellsworth Historical Society and Rebecca Maddocks, who owns several properties on nearby North Street, also both told the local City Council earlier this week that they support of preserving the historic structure.

“Webber has no right to destroy the building,” Maddocks said Monday.

There is a city Council meeting tonight 9-17-18 , the Society will be speaking to the Council regarding the recent demo…

Posted by The Ellsworth Historical Society on Monday, September 17, 2018

On its Facebook page, the historical society urged people to contact the city with their concerns about the pending demolition of the building.

“Once these building are gone they cannot be replaced, nor can the sense of our historic neighborhoods,” the society wrote. “Please show your support of our history, contact your city councilors.”

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