FARMINGTON — The next step in turning town-owned property at 112 Church St. into a 28-space municipal parking lot will come next week, when the Board of Selectmen will discuss hiring a civil engineer and sending the project out to bid.

The town has been working to prepare the three-story apartment house on the lot for demolition since it was bought in November. Town Manager Richard Davis has been providing small updates for selectmen on progress of the project over the winter, but with the building largely cleared out and ready for demolition, he plans to discuss the next step with selectmen Tuesday.

“Things seem to be going pretty smoothly,” Davis said.

The project started last spring, when an advisory committee on parking began talking about the property as an opportunity to develop a parking lot to alleviate downtown parking problems.

With limited street parking on Broadway and Main Street, combined with a population of University of Maine at Farmington students who live off-campus and use the town’s lots, Davis said parking has “been a perennial issue” for downtown shoppers.

The town owns the parking lot behind Main Street near the post office and leases parts of two privately owned parking lots on Front Street.

Voters approved the $80,000 purchase at special town meeting in June. At the time, the property was managed by the estate of James Murphy. Murphy, a Starks resident, owned the 1866 home, which was divided into four apartments. In November 2013, Murphy was killed by a drunken driver in Fairfield, and his family took over managing the home.

Murphy’s brothers were managing the property from out of state and Davis said they were “looking to get rid of it.”

Before the town closed on the property on Nov. 5, Murphy’s estate notified the building’s tenants that the building was being sold. Ultimately, one tenant was evicted.

The home was bought using funding from the downtown tax increment financing reserve account.

Since gaining ownership of the 4,754-square-foot house, the town has worked to clean out the home and salvage any appliances or fixtures, which Davis has been working to sell.

Additionally, Davis said an asbestos survey of the building found a level of asbestos typically found in homes of that age. Asbestos was found in flooring tiles and the chimney, as well as in some of the caulking in the older windows. At a cost of $8,000, an asbestos abatement was completed last month. Davis said the cost of the abatement was less than the town was expecting.

With the building cleared and ready for demolition, Davis said, the next step is have a civil engineer develop a design for the parking lot and put both the house demolition and the parking lot construction out for bids.

Since the house has a cellar that has to be filled in and graded after the building is demolished, Davis said his recommendation is to have the demolition and the parking lot construction done by the same company under one contract.

With $90,000 left in the TIF reserve account, Davis said, there is enough money to cover the demolition and the construction. He also has been able to raise about $2,000 from the sale of fixtures removed from the home.

After design plans for the lot are formulated, the town will seek bids on the project, which Davis expects to be able to do by the end of this month.

If all goes well, the home will be demolished by the end of this summer. Depending on when the demolition is complete, the parking lot will be finished either in the fall or next spring.

“It’s possible we may be only able to get the lot graded and compacted and it may have to wait until spring to be paved,” Davis said.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate

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