Bath transfers ownership of Huse School for remediation work

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BATH — The city has transferred ownership of the 74-year-old John E.L. Huse Memorial School to Bath Development Corp.

The transfer will allow an environmental remediation of the former school building. The Andrews Road property will then be turned over to the Szanton Co., which plans to develop nearly 60 mixed-income residential apartments, with almost half in a new northeast wing.

The city is funding the work through Brownfields assessment grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Economic Development Director Scott LaFlamme said in a March 31 memo to the Bath City Council.

But to meet EPA regulations, the city has to temporarily transfer ownership of the building to to Bath Development, which the City Council approved April 6.

Since the city has owned the building since it was built, it is “seen as the responsible party for any contaminates that may be in the building,” LaFlamme explained.

“We can’t spend our own Brownfield money on this, and because of the way the chain of title runs, neither can Szanton, after we transfer it to them,” so an intermediary must be used, City Solicitor Roger Therriault told councilors April 6.

The amount of money to be spent depends on what is found during the assessment, LaFlamme said in an interview April 7.

The work to be done in the next two months includes an assessment of asbestos in the building’s floor tiles, and a search for heavy metals in the basement’s firing range. An underground oil tank is also to be removed, once Szanton owns the property.

Szanton has a contract with the city to purchase the building and surrounding land. The property would be subdivided into a municipal band building and ball fields, which the city would retain, and the 2.49-acre Huse School lot, which Szanton would own.

The company plans to close on the property acquisition and begin construction in June and open the new apartments in May 2017.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Bath has transferred ownership of the former John E.L. Huse Memorial School to Bath Development Corp. to allow an environmental remediation of the 1940s building.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.