February 13, 2011

Hartland's Academy Building sold to developer

HARTLAND — The Academy Building, a historic former school and town office space, was sold Friday to a Saco developer for $25,000.

click image to enlarge

The Academy Building, a historic former school and town office space, was sold Friday to a Saco developer for $25,000.

Staff photo by Scott Monroe

The town-owned building on Academy Street, built in 1924, has been vacant since municipal offices moved from it in 2008.

Mark Anthony of Saco closed on the building's sale Friday morning, according to Town Manager Susan Frost. They purchase price is half of what the town had hoped to get.

Anthony couldn't be reached for comment Friday, but Frost said Anthony is contemplating using the 21,600-square-foot building for rentals or summer homes, though nothing is finalized.

"I think it's fantastic," Frost said. "He really wants to reach out to the community and maintain the outside of the building. That was very positive, that he's very community-concerned."

Frost said proceeds from the sale would go into a municipal reserve account. Previously, town officials and citizens have discussed using that money and the sale of the current town office toward the new municipal space, but that decision will ultimately rest with town meeting voters someday, she said.

The current Town Office is in a building on Routes 43/23, and residents at the annual meeting last year voted to sell that building.

The Town Office had been at The Academy from 2001 until 2008 when the heating system broke.

Initially, the town had sought to sell The Academy for $50,000.

Some residents didn't want to see the building sold; they wanted it re-used.

Last year, a citizen petition signed by about 80 Hartland residents proposed returning the town office to The Academy Building, but that effort failed when it was brought before citizens at a special town meeting.

The petition proposed asking voters whether they favored halting the sale of the town-owned building and instead moving municipal operations there, as well as the Tri-Town Food Cupboard and Hartland Historical Society.

The proposal came following the May 1, 2010, annual town meeting at which voters rejected, by a vote of 42 to 34, a proposal by municipal officials to purchase the Scott-Webb Memorial Medical Center on Routes 151/43 for use as a new town office.

Pat Martin, a purchasing agent for the food cupboard and an organizer of the petition, said Friday that she has accepted the fact that "most townspeople thought it was too expensive to keep" the Academy.

"At least we'll be getting taxes from it," Martin said.

The Scott-Webb proposal was made while Larry Post served as town manager; Frost succeeded him late last year.

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