January 21

Augusta looking for a place to move stuff from old Cony High School

City Council will take up proposal for heated storage building proposed for North Street at public works site, which could house items stored in flatiron building.

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — Ever since the old Cony High School closed in 2006, the school’s original building has served as a handy minimally heated spot the city could store things that didn’t have another place to go.

click image to enlarge

NEW USE: A developer plans to transform the former Cony High School in Augusta into elderly housing.

Staff file photo by Joe Phelan

With a deal with a developer who plans to turn the flatiron building into housing for senior citizens expected to close within the next few months, the city is going to have to find a new place for its stuff.

The City Council on Thursday is scheduled to discuss a new capital improvement plan that includes funding a proposal to spend about $650,000 to build a heated storage building at the public works department off North Street, near the west end of Bridge Street.

Last year councilors agreed to put aside about half the cost of constructing a heated, storage building. City Manager William Bridgeo is proposing the rest of the money be included in the capital improvement plan that’s up for discussion.

“It’s important because we store a bunch of stuff that needs to be in heated storage, in the flatiron,” Bridgeo said Tuesday. “That’s got to go somewhere. And we don’t have any place for it other than that. Once (developer) Cindy Taylor takes over the flatiron building, we have to get that stuff out of there.”

That includes items from public works, police and the fire department, Bridgeo said.

He said the city’s deal to transfer control of the flatiron building to Taylor’s Housing Initiatives of New England could close in April.

The city has been spending about $70,000 a year to heat and maintain the building to prevent structural damage that can occur when buildings are left unheated.

The capital improvement plan generally is made up of longer-term expenditures for buildings and equipment expected to last a significant amount of time, items that aren’t included in the annual city budget.

If councilors decide to borrow the money to complete the projects, some of the items in the plan could be funded by a bond. That’s something councilors will have to decide by March if they’re going to issue a bond this fiscal year, Bridgeo said.

Bridgeo said the new building will likely be built near the entrance to the public works department on a site currently occupied by an older metal building that he said is in such rough condition the city can’t secure full insurance for it. That older building would be torn down.

Also new in the capital improvement plan is a proposal for about $230,000 in energy efficiency improvements to Hartford Fire Station, which could include solar panels. Bridgeo said the work would be funded, much as similar energy efficiency improvements at Augusta City Center, the Civic Center and Buker Community Center were, with money expected to be saved from the efficiency upgrades.

Councilors meet 6:30 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at Augusta City Center to discuss the proposed capital improvement plan.

Councilors are also scheduled to hear a presentation about fundraising efforts to renovate and expand Lithgow Public Library and get an annual audit report of the city’s finances.

Keith Edwards - 621-5647 kedwards@centralmaine.com

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