SCARBOROUGH – Fred Poore now has a decision to make, after trying Tuesday morning to move the small cottage the town of Scarborough had seen fit to give him – whether to move it as is, or chop off the roof.
In 2010, the town got serious about trying to settle longstanding parking issues in the historic Higgins Beach community by using a $1.27 million Land for Maine’s Future grant to buy a private parking lot on Ocean Street from the Vasile family, along with a 10-acre conservation parcel off Munsey Road. In addition to the lot, which the town spent $40,000 this spring to improve and expand, it inherited a small cottage built in 1948.
The original plan was to demolish the building to clear the way for a $300,000 bathhouse, in hopes that a year-round facility, with changing rooms, bathrooms that comply with the American Disabilities Act and an exterior rinse-off area, would mitigate tension between locals and surfers, often accused of changing in and out of wetsuits beside the road.
But then Poore stepped in and asked if he could have the building.
“Really, that’s a good deal for the town because it saves us the expense of tearing it down and carting it away,” said Town Manager Tom Hall.
Poore, a resident of Higgins Beach since 1972, got the building for free, but won’t say how much he’s paying to move the building a few hundred yards up Ocean Avenue to a vacant lot across from his home that he’s owned since 1985. He hopes to have the building renovated, up to code and ready to rent by spring.
But on Monday, with a crew from local firm James G. Merry Building Movers on hand ready to go to work, and the cottage already hoisted on to steel beams, work came to a sudden halt.
“Fairpoint didn’t show up,” said Community Services Director Bruce Gullifer, who oversees management of the parking lot and handled the bathhouse bid.
The phone company needed to take down its telephone lines in order for the cottage to make its short trip onto the pavement and down the avenue. With all parties not able to return to the site until Oct. 1, Poore was contemplating simply cutting the roof of the cottage, allowing it to clear the phone lines.
“Code won’t allow me to have bedrooms on the second floor the way it is, so I was planning to raise the roof anyway,” he said, adding that chopping the top before the move, rather than once it is in its new spot, could potentially save him as much as $7,600.
“I don’t care how it moves,” joked Gullifer. “It can go in one piece, it can go in five. I just need it off my lot.”
If Poore does decide to cut up the cottage, it will be moved Sept. 27, he said.
Gullifer said construction of the bathhouse, which will include a 1,000-gallon storage tank and solar power, will begin as soon as Poore can get the cottage off site. On Tuesday, Gullifer signed contracts with Benchmark, of South Portland, which turned in the low bid of four submitted, at $301,000 – up from an originally budgeted estimate of $288,000.
“The building will be a little bit bigger than the cottage that’s coming out,” he said. “The idea is to make it blend in with the character of the community, so it won’t be just a cinderblock building. It’s going to look and feel like everything around it.”
At its most recent meeting, the Town Council authorized transferring an extra $85,000 to cover possible cost overruns for construction.
“Having a contingency [fund] is wise,” said Hall, at the time. “Let’s hope we don’t have to use it.”
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