WATERVILLE — City officials Tuesday night toured a house at 167 Water St. in the city’s South End to help them decide what to do with the property.
The two-family house on the corner of Halde Street was taken by the city in March for nonpayment of taxes.
“It’s either sell it or tear it down,” City Manager Michael Roy said of the house during the tour.
The wood-frame, vinyl-sided house is assessed at $60,000; the city likely would put it on the market for $25,000 if the council decides to sell it, according to Roy. He said he was told a prior owner of the house put $40,000 worth of work into it.
Public Works Director Mark Turner said the house has a fairly new roof and heating system, as well as some new windows and plumbing.
Councilor Karen Rancourt-Thomas, D-Ward 7, said she hopes the city will do something with the property that will help improve the neighborhood, as that is what people living there want. She represents the South End.
She suggested tearing it down and possibly constructing a building that would serve young children.
“Or sell it to somebody who is going to improve the neighborhood,” she said.
Rancourt-Thomas said the city makes improvements in other areas, but not so much in the South End, and residents there take notice.
“They’re tired of being left out of the loop,” she said.
 She recommended people attend a City Council meeting Tuesday at which the council will decide what to do with the property.
“We really do need community input,” she said.
During the tour, Roy noted the hardwood floors were done with square nails.
“These floorboards, we think, are 100 years old,” he said.
The first floor apartment has four rooms; the upstairs,  three rooms and an outside balcony.
“Certainly a fixer-upper,” said Councilor John O’Donnell.
At a budget workshop after the tour, councilors discussed another city-owned building that is vacant — the former Parks & Recreation building on Western Avenue.
“It’s listed for sale right now; it’s listed for $90,000,” Roy said.
In other matters, city officials discussed ways to boost revenues, including increasing municipal pool fees, as well as fees to out-of-towners using ball fields. The city last increased pool fees in 2007, according to Parks and Recreation Director Matt Skehan.
“It’s an unbelievable facility,” Skehan said. “Really, it’s not just a pool — it’s a water park.”
Children who are residents pay $1 a day to swim; nonresident children pay $2. Adult residents pay $2 and out-of-town adults, $5. Season passes for resident children are $10; adults, $15. Non resident children pay $30; adults, $40.  Seniors swim free.
Skehan said he supports increasing fees, not because he wants to, but because it’s time.
Councilor Eliza Mathias, D-Ward 6, said the city is losing money on the pool operation and  recommended a fee increase.
“I’ve heard people almost embarrassed by the low rates,” she said. “Out-of-towners, too.”
Council Chairman Fred Stubbert, D-Ward 1, said other towns bring in busloads of children to swim.
“Absolutely,” Mayor Karen Heck, who also urged an increase, said. “It’s a deal for them.”
Heck and Mathias asked officials to consider bringing back curbside recycling, but they found little support.
“It lost money before and it will lose money again,” Stubbert said. Roy agreed.
“To have curbside pickup — I don’t think it’s even a topic for discussion,” he said.
He cited the city’s proposal to cut 12 teachers as one reason the city should not approach the curbside recycling issue.
But Mathias and Heck recommended the city talk about it.
“Let’s just have some kind of public discussion about it, because people are asking,” Heck said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
[email protected]


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