HALLOWELL — The grass is growing, the inmates are gone, and state workers will follow, leaving the state-owned Stevens School complex vacant.

Hallowell officials are worried the property could become another Kennebec Arsenal, deteriorating and vulnerable to vandalism, and they’re seeking assurance that there will be some maintenance as the state continues to try to sell it.

“Even though we’ve had conversations, we’re still kind of in the dark as far as what the state intends to do with the property before it goes on the market or before it gets sold,” City Manager Michael Starn said.

The state began trying to sell the property in 2008, first through a request for proposals and then by listing it for $1.1 million.

The 14-building, 63.5-acre property is mostly vacant already. Inmates housed at the Central Maine Pre-Release Center were moved to another facility this spring. The Department of Marine Resources and the Natural Resources Service Center are still there, and Regional School Unit 2 has a lease on space there for its central offices until 2015.

The Bureau of General Services, a division of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, would not provide information about the state’s plans for the property. Department spokeswoman Jennifer Smith said they would provide no comment because Gov. Paul LePage has ordered state agencies not to cooperate with the Kennebec Journal or other MaineToday Media newspapers or websites.


Rep. Sharon Treat, D-Hallowell, said she shares city officials’ concerns. She has met with the Bureau of General Services several times, most recently last month, and she said they plan to move all state offices off the Stevens School property.

“One issue that came up with BGS is that their plan is to simply board up the buildings and to basically put them in cold storage and turn off the utilities,” Treat said. “In those meetings, I know I have certainly raised concerns about not only what it would look like, but whether in fact those buildings would be secure. We’ve seen what’s happened with the (Kennebec) Arsenal, for example.”

The state Office of the Attorney General filed a court complaint in April against the would-be developer of the Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta, saying he has failed to make promised improvements since buying the property in 2007. A state historian estimated that the developer’s neglect has resulted in $1 million worth of damage.

The Stevens School complex is on Winthrop Street, one of Hallowell’s busiest roads. Treat said it wouldn’t be good for the city to have people driving past boarded-up buildings on an overgrown property every day.

In addition, if the buildings are unsightly or suffer from neglect or vandalism, the property will be more difficult to sell, she said.

Starn said he’s working with Treat and Sen. Pat Flood, R-Winthrop, to make sure the Stevens School property gets the attention it needs. He plans to write a letter to the Bureau of General Services about his concerns, which city councilors share.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
[email protected]

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