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Bath council to weigh Armory purchase

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Bath council to weigh Armory purchase

BATH — The City Council is expected next month to decide whether to purchase the former National Guard Armory as a possible future home for the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark.

The city has the option to buy the Old Brunswick Road property for $175,000. While a state law mandating that armories be sold at their appraised price made the purchase cost-prohibitive, legislation introduced by Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, and passed in Augusta has altered that requirement, at least in Bath’s case.

City Manager Bill Giroux had said appraisals topped $300,000. The City Council visited the Armory Wednesday prior to a workshop.

Abatement for asbestos, mold and lead paint would be necessary and cost about $100,000 according to early estimates, Giroux said. He noted that the city has about $600,000 in Brownfield grant funds for such purposes.

The City Council will vote in May on borrowing money just for the Armory purchase, and not for the renovations. While Stephen Blatt Architects placed the cost of renovating the Armory at $2.2 million a year ago, some councilors said they expect the cost to be significantly lower.

Councilor James Omo said public works staff, volunteers and local contractors could possibly give their time “to making this teen center be a reality for half of (the $2.2 million figure), if not less than that. ... There are lot of people who want to get involved in this that aren’t looking to make any money off of it; they just want to help make a teen center a reality, because they see the value of it. There is so much good that can be done ... by putting it out there.”

Parks and Recreation Director Steve Balboni, who proposes using the upper level of the Armory for the Skatepark and other youth recreational activities, said the Skatepark board strives to be frugal in its spending and looks to take that approach at the Armory.

“We just want to open it up and create a space for the teens to go,” he said. “This isn’t granite counter tops and fancy stuff.”

The former YMCA on Summer Street, where the Skatepark currently exists, has mounting capital needs, including mold, insulation and roof issues, Giroux said. Tax increment financing district funds can be used to demolish that building, he said, as long as the property is committed to be used for economic development.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.