HALLOWELL — As concerns mount over the proposed transfer of ownership of the Dr. Hubbard Museum from the city to Linda Bean, as part of the deal to relocate the historic Dummer House, the city has delayed a decision on it for now.

There were several people who spoke against the proposal during a public hearing at the beginning of Monday’s City Council meeting.

Jane Radcliffe said she thinks there is a lot of misunderstandings and legalese that need to be cleared up, including what actually belongs to the city and what doesn’t. She said she wants the Hubbard museum to remain city property.

Mayor Mark Walker said the council will consider the transfer of the Dummer House and Dr. Hubbard Museum as separate transactions, and Walker said deciding on the museum proposal will be delayed until a more complete process is undertaken.

Bean said she’s 76 years old and won’t be around forever, so she’s trying to make the best decision possible. She said she started discussing the Hubbard piece of the deal in order to make a historic museum area along Second Street.

“I’m doing it because it makes logical sense,” Bean said. “(Second Street) could become very attractive as a historic streetscape.”

There has been discussion about the Dummer House becoming a museum, and Bean said if this deal happens, the Hubbard would be a second museum space for the historical collections that many in Hallowell and around Maine could offer.

Walker said the city began working with Bean on this plan about two years ago. There have been many iterations of plans and proposals, and City Manager Nate Rudy and Walker said there are still details that will need to be worked out.

Jane Orbeton said she is concerned that there hasn’t been a public process about the proposal until Monday’s public hearing.

“The sale of a public asset requires a public process that gives people an opportunity to find out why the city is selling and what the city is getting in return,” said Orbeton, a member of the Hallowell Planning Board. “It’s a public asset, and a decision on what should be done with one should be done carefully and with full information.”

According to the Memorandum of Understanding, Bean, the granddaughter of L.L. Bean’s founder and the owner of the Dummer House and adjacent land bordered by Second and Central streets, has agreed to move the historic house and sell the remaining property to Hallowell. Bean and the city have agreed on a $147,000 price for the remaining parcels of land.

If an agreement is finalized, Bean would continue to own the house when it moves to its new location — on the corner of Second and Central streets — and Preservation Timber Framing in Berwick will handle the move and rehabilitation of the historic building.

Rudy said the goal is for the work, including the construction of a new municipal parking lot, to be completed by April, when the Maine Department of Transportation begins a six-month reconstruction of a 2,000-foot stretch of Water Street in Hallowell’s busy downtown. The project will be funded using $300,000 allocated in a $2.36 million bond package approved by voters in April.

Councilor Diano Circo said he appreciates the urgency of the matters, because it is important to get the parking lot constructed before the Water Street work begins.

Walker said the plan is to move forward with negotiating the deal for the Dummer House, and the council will continue to discuss plans for the Hubbard museum because there isn’t as much of a need to make that deal happen quickly.

The agreement with the city stipulates that Bean would have to maintain the Hubbard museum at the same level or better than the city currently does, and Rudy said there’s no reason to think Bean isn’t up to the task. Rudy said the city spends about $1,100 to maintain the Hubbard each year, so it would save that money if the responsibility became Bean’s.

Bean said that at her age, she wouldn’t solely be maintaining the properties, and she said it would probably be managed by a historical entity.

“It has historic value, and I’m trying to make it into a better piece of cloth for all of us,” Bean said.

Chris Vallee, a co-owner of the Quarry Tap Room, said he didn’t know about the Hubbard proposal until reading an article in the Kennebec Journal. He said he doesn’t understand why the city would pay top dollar for Bean’s parcel, and Bean gets to own a building that has significant history.

“It just doesn’t seem fair,” Vallee said.

Not everyone had as many concerns about the proposal. Councilor Kara Walker said she thinks everyone wants assurances that the Dummer House and Hubbard remain as museum-like properties.

Gerry Mahoney and Carolyn Manson spoke about the opportunity the proposed deal gives downtown Hallowell. Mahoney said there is an opportunity to make historic preservation a priority and to make significant improvements to the city’s historic district.

“I think (this proposal) works for everyone, and I think it’s going to be a huge improvement to the downtown,” Manson said.

In other business, the council discussed a proposal from Rudy to invest the Cemetery Trust fund into a portfolio that will generate a 4-5% return, roughly $40,000-50,000 per year. Rudy proposes that these funds be used to hire a full time, year-round public works employee to manage cemetery and building maintenance, and supplemental winter storm response and snow removal with an emphasis on downtown sidewalk snow removal and non-CDL driver support for snow plowing operations.

The council also heard the second and third readings of a proposed parking ordinance change that would permanently eliminate two parking spaces on Central Street on the southwest corner of Second and Central streets, and to shorten two spots on the southeast corner for “Compact Vehicle Only” parking, to improve visibility in that intersection.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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