Preserving the SLB – September Update

If you have the opportunity, please let your selectmen know that you support repairing the Stewart Library Building and preserving its historic value. It is very important for them to know the people support this work.

Repairing the Clock Tower
At town meeting in March the voters of Corinna authorized the Town to borrow up to $180,000 to fix the clock tower of the Stewart Library Building. The engineering work that went out to bid proposed removing the belfry and tearing down the top 30 feet of the tower, adding new structural steel when the tower was rebuilt. Three bids were received. The lowest was about $50,000 more than the town had voted to spend. That plan was set aside.

In August a structural engineer from a Portland based company with many years of experience restoring historic buildings conducted a new structural evaluation of the clock tower. This evaluation, paid for using grant money from the the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, concluded that the tower is not in danger of collapsing. However, it needs work as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration and to repair the structure.

This evaluation proposes to fix the tower in place, without demolishing it. Mortar on the outside must be replaced and the three layers of bricks in the walls can be tied together using stainless steel bolts. It is possible this will be less expensive than the first proposed repair.

Our committee, the Building Preservation Group, is working with the selectmen and the Portland company to have the engineering work developed based on this report for a new bid process. The goal is to repair the tower according to the historic restoration standards that will keep the building on the National Register of Historic Places. There should be more news of this in the next week or so.

Developing An Overall Plan
Using other anticipated grant funds, the selectmen have hired an architectural firm from Bangor to do an Historic Structure Report (HSR) on the building. The report looks at the entire building, documents its history, makes recommendations for the repairs, upgrades and restoration, provides a logical sequence for the work, and gives cost estimates. This report becomes the basis for detailed planning and writing grant applications. Most organizations that grant money want to see a report like this as evidence that solid planning as been done and cost estimates have been made. The architectural firm will complete the HSR before November 1.

A Major Grant Application
The committee will immediately use the report to improve a grant application we have pending with an organization that has expressed a strong interest in providing funds for the restoration of the Stewart Library Building. However, they have requested a master plan that estimates costs for the work needed in the entire building. We are working hard to develop these estimates before a November 1 deadline for what may be an extraordinary opportunity to fund the work of restoring the building. There should be more news on this in November.

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