Brunswick prepares to demolish old newspaper building

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BRUNSWICK — The old Times Record building will be put to rest after the Town Council Monday night unanimously authorized its demolition.

“The time has come for us to bite the bullet and demolish the building,” Town Manager Gary Brown said before the vote.

Copp Excavating of Durham will demolish the newspaper’s former building at 6 Industry Road after Nov. 1, Brown said Wednesday.

The demolition will cost the town nearly $139,000, all of which will come from Brunswick’s special revenue fund, which has an approximate balance of $490,000.

The fund holds money from rent payments from Southern Maine Community College’s Midcoast Campus, along appropriations for the town, Brown said.

Money from the fund has also been used for maintenance and heating of the former newspaper building, Brown said in June. Maintenance costs alone were $50,000 a year, the town manager added.

Copp Excavating’s bid was the lowest out of the five submitted by area companies to Town Engineer John Foster. The highest bid was made by Chabot’s Construction of Green for $286,900.

Once the building is destroyed, Brown said the remaining balance from the enterprise account will be transferred to the town’s general fund, unless another use is determined and approved by the Town Council.

Before the council voted 9-0, Councilor Ben Tucker asked about the large difference between the least and most expensive bids.

“The high bid is almost twice the low bid,” Tucker said. “Why would one company say it costs this much and another said it costs this little? Is that bid so low that we’re at risk for paying more for that?”

“There was a required walk-through for the building. They are all fully aware of the requirements of this project,” Brown said. He added that the lower bids were possibly a reflection of times when business slows down.

The town purchased the Times Record building on Sept. 28, 2004, for nearly $1.28 million.

After several failed attempts to sell the building since fall 2010, the council solicited demolition bids in June.

On another note, the Times Record’s owner was able to pay the town a little more than $272,000 on July 20 for property taxes that were due since late 2011, according to Finance Director John Eldridge.

Brunswick Publishing, the owner of the weekly newspaper, said a few days before  that it was able to make the payment by selling the Times Record building at 3 Business Parkway and its Alliance Press printing division to the company’s president, Chris Miles, and RFB Co-Op of Rockland.

George Sample, owner of Brunswick Publishing, at the time described the sale as a “financial restructuring.” The newspaper still operates at the Parkway building.

The newspaper’s former building has been used to store old town and school documents along with gym equipment from the Recreation Department. All of the materials will be moved to other buildings, including the town’s Field House at Brunswick Landing, prior to demolition.

While there are currently no plans for use of land at 6 Industry Road once the former newspaper building is demolished, at least one department has an idea for its future.

“It’s no secret that the school is thinking about putting a bus garage down there,” Brown said. “For the time being, it’s just gravel.”

Other items discussed at Monday’s Town Council meeting included the consideration of a proposal to add four flag stops in the downtown area for the Coastal Trans bus service, and an ordinance amendment to increase the maximum footprint for buildings with three or more units.

After a lengthy discussion, the Town Council voted 6-3 to table consideration of the flag stops. A disagreement between councilors about the placement of the stops led them to conclude that the proposal should be discussed in the Master Plan Implementation committee.

“I was afraid there were too many questions,” Town Council Chairwoman Joanne King said. “Take it to the implementation committee.”

The footprint amendment for buildings with three or more units in the Residential and College Use Districts, which increases the maximum footprint from 5,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet, passed 7-1.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.