Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Time to let them go

Like many towns in the nation and across the globe, Gray Maine is struggling to maintain their historic buildings. Many congregations are struggling to maintain their historic churches. In Ontario Canada, one of the stone spires atop the 18th century roof crashed down as parishioners made their way into mass. Forty-five of the 115 churches in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa were built in the nineteenth century.

Upgrading churches to meet safety standards is beyond the financial capacity of many congregations, and maintaining historic municipal buildings is beyond the tax revenue of many towns. Below, the church steps were damaged where the spire crashed.

In the town of Gray Maine, there has been an ongoing discussion of what to do with Stimson, Pennell, the old Town Hall (became the old fire station, now it's empty). The key to successful preservation in many places seems to be releasing the buildings to developers who will rehab them and bring them back to their former glory., Such a process benefits everyone, including the developer, who knows that preservation and attractive town centers bring customers.

The town of Gray has utterly failed in its municipal endeavor to preserve these buildings, and the protracted fight has only served allow the buildings to fail further. If the town cannot find a solution, give/sell Pennell and the others to legitimate developers to do what they know best. Below, Pennell Institute's steps deteriorated due to road salt exposure.

It has worked magnificently in so many other places, from
Saskatchewan to

Pennsylvania to

Japan to

Comer GA : Comer is Madison County’s most populous town, and certain areas are designated as an historic district. Comer’s Historic Downtown Area is currently experiencing several restoration and revitalization projects" as described here. Over a million in grant money has been given and construction starts this year.

Sell those albatrosses, Gray, and work with a knowledgeable developer to restore the buildings. Municipalities are not in the business of developing, developers are. And given the heartache and negativity around Pennell for the last 7 years, I say let someone else start anew.

Public Notice: The Town of Gray, Maine
•The Town of Gray is seeking a proposal to list for sale the following municipal properties

1. Former Post Office facility, located at 8 Shaker Road
2. Municipal Office (Town Hall), located at 6 Shaker Road
3. Stimson Hall, located at 4 Shaker Road
4. Dry Mills Fire Station, located at 249 Shaker Road
5. Pennell Institute and Science building, located at 20 Main Street

For more information, please call the Town Office at 657-3339.


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