After delay, former Brunswick Rec Center comes down

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BRUNSWICK — Demolition of the former Town Office and Recreation Center on Federal Street is back on track after work was delayed by the discovery of hazardous materials.

Coastal Enterprises Inc., a nonprofit community development corporation, bought the two buildings this year in a deal with the town and the Brunswick Development Corp.

The Recreation Center’s hollow, hangar-like structure came crashing down Monday morning. Contractors working on the project are now scheduled to collect and sort the remaining materials and tear out the basement substructure at the site before pouring a new foundation for a 10,800-square-foot, two-story headquarters for CEI.

The company expects to complete construction by next summer. The new headquarters will centralize its offices from Wiscasset and Portland, bringing more than 70 employees into downtown Brunswick. 

Demolition of the Town Office building, at 28 Federal St., was completed in late August.

Workers from Harry Crooker & Sons, the Topsham firm hired for the project, started work on the former Recreation Center in mid-September, but were forced to halt work after discovering an asbestos-insulated heating pipe.

John Egan of CEI on Wednesday said the company knew of lead paint and asbestos in the buildings, but two previous hazardous materials inspections hadn’t found the pipe, concealed in the building’s ceiling. 

Work stopped until the the remaining material was removed and another test was completed, Egan said.

The unanticipated delay pushed the contracting firm up against the end of its September deadline to complete demolition, according to Egan. 

“We were expecting to be done with demolition by the end of September, and boy, they just made it,” Egan said.

CEI is trying to achieve the “Lead Gold” certification for construction from the U.S. Green Building Council, which requires it to sort different kinds of materials before removing them from the site, which takes longer than a conventional demolition project. 

Egan said CEI is hopeful the site will be cleared, and concrete poured for the foundation, before winter. Nine and a half months remain on Crooker’s contract for the project, he said, but further delays are not unexpected. 

“Most construction, you come across things you don’t expect and you end up with small delays,” he said. “This is our best estimate from the contractor, and from what we see they have all the building stages mapped out on their schedule, but you know, stuff happens.”

Peter L. McGuire can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or pmcguire@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter @mcguiremidcoast.

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Contractors clear debris from the demolished Recreation Center in downtown Brunswick Monday morning, Sept. 29. 

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