m-bathcouncil-011609 Chocolate Church seeks grant funds for improvements

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BATH – The City Council voted Jan. 7 to endorse an application for $150,000 in community development block grant funds to support improvements at the Chocolate Church Arts Center.
The public facilities grant, for which Bath’s community development office is applying this month on behalf of the arts center, would go toward much-needed repairs to the 1840s building. That work includes structural stabilization of its belfry tower, the structural and architectural transition between the tower and the sanctuary building, roofing problems and safety and accessibility concerns.
“In our current condition it may not be possible to continue with our season completely at this venue,” said Roo Dunn, director of the arts center, which hosts theatrical and musical performances.
Dunn pointed out that the belfry tower has a northern list of about 18 inches, which he said has increased an inch since being measured about a year and a half ago. Center officials will consider the use of any materials and techniques in the work ahead that meet the test of affordability, durability and a low maintenance cycle, he said.
Calling the center “an economic generator,” Dunn said, “to do this we need the support not just of this body and of this grant, but the support of our community to ensure that this organization remains sound and sustainable for many years.”
City Manager Bill Giroux said the funding comes from federal grant money and is administered through the state and through the city’s community development office. The application will be submitted to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development Office of Community Development.
The council also authorized Giroux to seek fuel bids for fiscal 2010, which runs from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010. The city solicited bids about six weeks ago for fuel through the end of the current fiscal year, locking in at a time of relatively low prices. Giroux said he does not see oil getting much cheaper, hence his desire to buy now for next year.
Thanks to the receipt of grant money in recent weeks toward the purchase of three new defibrillators for the Fire Department, Fire Chief Steve Hines told the council he no longer needs an ordinance authorizing the bonding of up to $60,000 for the devices.
Hines said the grant money, matched with funds the department has in capital, will pay for the defibrillators, so the council – which had given first passage to the ordinance in December and was going to vote on second and final passage that night – was able to withdraw the item from further consideration.

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

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.