By Diana Bowley of the Bangor Daily News - DEXTER - The historic town hall used to be a former hub of activity until it fell into disrepair, a victim of budget cuts. Its value, however, has not been lost to those who see the building as an asset to the town and who are working diligently to save the structure.
A Community Development Block Grant of $165,000, along with some matching local funds, soon will be invested in the building. Work is expected to begin within the next two weeks to renovate the front entrance and stairs, to improve the heat exchange in the upper level of the building, and to make the building accessible to people with disabilities.
Andy Conway, for one, is anxious for the improvements. As Dexter’s recreation director, he has had to move functions to other facilities in town, which tends to create scheduling nightmares.
"It just makes it so much easier for scheduling purposes by having the town hall for the recreation programs," Conway said Monday.
While he uses the building for spring sports, he had has to move the local basketball program to the middle school. In winter months, the only use the facility receives is by local residents who bundle up against the cold and walk around the gymnasium for exercise.
Once the building is repaired and heated, it will be used for many activities, Conway thinks. He envisions that the hall once again will be used for roller skating and will become a gathering place for senior citizens, as well as a place for families to watch movies once a month.
To do the work this fall, town officials secured a state grant and matched the funds with about $42,500 from the local budget.
E. W. Littlefield and Sons of Hartland submitted the lowest of three bids for the project, but that amount still exceeded the approximately $180,000 budget.
Town Manager Judy Doore said this week that the contractor agreed to remove the cost of the mechanical parts for the heating system, which will free up funds for the remaining work.
The elevator, which is required by state law, will connect the ground floor only to the second floor, according to Doore. She said that because the third floor is considered a mezzanine, it does not require an elevator. A mezzanine is defined as a type of balcony.
While the heating system is a must-do, work will continue to be done over time to make the improvements, Doore said. Some local funds were used last year to begin the repair. She said the town will continue to search for grants.
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