Hallowell officials continue to work out the details of moving a historic house to make way for a parking lot city leaders hope will be finished in time for the start of next year’s Water Street reconstruction project.

Current plans call for the relocation of the Dummer House, built in 1792 by Nathaniel Dummer, to an adjacent lot that would clear space the city hopes would ease parking concerns during the reconstruction project scheduled to begin in April 2018.

Greg Paxton, executive director of Maine Preservation, told the City Council at last Monday’s meeting that Linda Bean — the granddaughter of L.L. Bean’s founder — is donating the property, including the Dummer House, to Maine Preservation. The city will purchase most of the donated parcel, including the piece where the house currently sits. City Manager Nate Rudy said negotiations continue for the cost of the land and he hopes they’ll be completed soon.

The Dummer House, which Bean restored from a state of disrepair in the 1960s, will be relocated to a parcel on the corner of Central and Second streets, and the plan is for Arron Sturgis, of Preservation Timber Framing in Berwick, to lead restoration efforts.

“In addition to being a partner with Sturgis on the project, Maine Preservation will accept an easement on the property and the city will provide and will make an easement stewardship contribution to ensure its historic character is maintained in perpetuity and that the building becomes a vital component of the downtown district,” Paxton said.

Rudy said the house is reportedly the oldest standing residence in Hallowell and because of its rare plank and timber frame construction, as well as other unique architectural elements, it’s an irreplaceable landmark of Hallowell’s past.

The house could be rehabilitated where it stands as a historic preservation project, Rudy said, but as a present-day economic development project in a new key location this building can be both saved and provide the city of Hallowell with a new economic opportunity by allowing the city to collect property tax from the Dummer House.

“This project will end up creating an income-producing property that adds to the tax base and will dramatically enhance the historic downtown district,” the city manager said. “If the city wishes to create a cost-effective parking lot in the space in between the Water Street and Second Street buildings adjacent to Central Street, the Dummer House certainly has to be moved.”

Rudy said Sturgis will restore and renovate the property and rent it, and he will have to pay annual taxes on the property.

Nathaniel Dummer was a veteran of the American Revolution and one of Hallowell’s early civic leaders. He served as the town’s first postmaster from 1794-1802 and was a judge on the Court of Common Pleas in Kennebec County. He died in Hallowell in 1815 at age 60.

“The Dummer House is an extremely valuable historic asset in our city,” said Hallowell mayor Mark Walker via email. “Available parking has long been a concern for Hallowell, and with the Maine Department of Transportation project beginning in less than a year, residents and business owners are looking for any way to find places for people to park during the construction period, which is expected to last from April 2018 to October 2018.”

Hallowell voters approved a $2.36 million bond package in late April that included $300,000 for improvements to Central Street parking, and that money will go a long way toward converting the former Dummer House parcel into some sort of parking lot.

Rudy said a 30-space, asphalt parking lot cannot be built for $300,000, so the city will have to be creative in finding cost-effective ways to add spaces during the construction project and beyond.

Maine Department of Transportation Project Manager Ernie Martin, at a public meeting earlier this year, mentioned putting 19 temporary parking spaces on the railroad corridor between Winthrop and Central streets, and Stevens Commons developer Matt Morrill offered his 54-acre campus as a possible spot for temporary parking, as well.

In other council business, Rudy updated the council on the progress of the fire station design and the building firm selection process. The city has fielded proposals from firms interested in designing and building the city’s fire station, and Rudy will interview candidates Monday with the winning proposal and award letter being issued Tuesday.

The new station will be built using up to $1 million in money given to the city by an anonymous donor. Last month, the city announced an agreement with Stevens Commons developer Matt Morrill that will allow the new station to be built where the campus’s Falwell Building now stands, behind the Stevens Building on Coos Lane.

The donation was subject to several conditions being met, including having a contract awarded for construction by Tuesday.

The council also reviewed the upcoming municipal budget, which includes a $229,000 increase in the Regional School Unit 2 budget. Rudy said the council may hold the third reading of the budget during a special meeting in June, and if that meeting takes place, the budget could be approved in July.

The budget does not include any funding for an automatic mutual aid agreement with the city of Augusta for fire services. Augusta City Manager William Bridgeo floated the idea of charging Hallowell $100,000 to continue its automatic mutual aid pact, but Rudy said there doesn’t seem to be council support for that plan.

Instead, Hallowell Fire Chief Jim Owens will decide when to call for the Augusta Fire Department depending on the situation instead of Augusta automatically being dispatched to Hallowell.

The council next meets at 6 p.m. July 10 at City Hall.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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