RANDOLPH — For months, Randolph officials tried to persuade the former owner of 21 Kinderhook St. to either fix up or tear down the neglected house.

Calls, letters and even a court order and judgment weren’t enough to get it done.

But now that the house and the neighboring house at 25 Kinderhook St. — both under new ownership — have been torn down, town officials say they are starting to address other houses in Randolph that may be deemed dangerous.

“It’s been a long process,” said Mark Roberts, chairman of the Randolph Board of Selectmen.

“We are certainly more well-versed on how the process works to first declare a dangerous building and go through the court process, if necessary,” Selectman Matt Drost said. “Although we don’t necessarily have to. Voluntary compliance certainly makes that easier from the tax burden standpoint.”

“Our goal is not to have buildings torn down,” Roberts said. “We’d rather have the buildings fixed up and have people live in them.”

Over the coming months, town officials plan to take on other properties that pose a hazard to public safety.

“I have made a tentative list from looking at the outsides,” Greg Lumbert, Randolph’s constable and code enforcement officer, said. “There’s about eight of them.”

He said he has visited several of the properties already, including one where he had to bend down to get under the sagging porch roof to leave his business card. One is due to be torn down later this month, Lumbert said.

In some cases, it’s clear which buildings might pose a hazard to the public or to the occupants.

“You do a visual, and most often with a dangerous building, you can tell just by looking at it,” he said. “If the roof is collapsed or the walls are collapsed, you don’t need a building inspector for that.”

But if an inspection is required, Lumbert said he’s accompanied by Randolph’s fire chief, health officer, and a licensed plumbing inspector. If they conclude the building is dangerous, he said, the property owner has the right to a hearing with the board of selectmen.

If no action is taken to repair the building, the town can seek court order to demolish the building and put a lien on the property for what the work cost.

“My goal is to have people be self-compliant so we can avoid the courts,” he said. “But with that said, if they are not compliant, we’ll go to court.”

On Friday morning, Shane Bradstreet was waiting for the cement truck to arrive on Kinderhook Street.

The short street, which links Route 27 to Route 226, is lined with homes of various ages.

On Thursday, Bradstreet and his crew had knocked off early, before the line of strong thunderstorms moved through the area at midday.

Bradstreet, who’s from Cumberland, is focused on his timeline. His goal is to get two new foundations poured on his adjacent lots on Kinderhook Street and enclose the houses by the time the snow starts falling.

Shane Bradstreet stands on the site of a planned new house after he demolished structures at 21 and 25 Kinderhook St.

“We want to get the roofs on by the end of the month,” Bradstreet said.

In addition to the two houses in Randolph, he’s working on four other houses, with a fifth to start in Bridgeton once the roofs are on.

“We work in a lot of high-end houses, and with high-end designers. We go in and renovate buildings that there’s nothing wrong with,” Bradstreet said. “So we try to salvage a lot of material.”

He’s also able to tap building materials from his parents’ farm.

This is a change to the plan Bradstreet had when he first approached Randolph officials about 21 Kinderhook in March 2017. If he could negotiate a fair price, he told selectmen, he’d be interested in buying the house and renovating it.

By then, town officials already had a long history with the property.

For months, they tried to get in touch with out-of-state companies, Kaja Holdings LLC, and its property manager, Vision Property Management LLC, to address the town’s concerns with the small, vacant house. Town records show that the companies took no action.

In January 2016, Robert St. Pierre, the code enforcement officer at the time, sent a letter to the companies warning that the Kinderhook Street house posed a serious threat to the public health and safety of the community. The town had already served the companies with a notice of violation, which included unsecured openings into the house, a hole in the foundation from a collapsed section of stone, and the failure of support structures like framing around the doors and walking surfaces.

In April of that year, the town won a default order and judgment in Kennebec County District Court that required the owners to either repair or demolish the house. If they failed to do that, the court authorized town officials to tear it down and bill the companies for the cost.

While Bradstreet acquired the house about a year later, it wasn’t clear whether any work was being done on it. By September, the Board of Selectmen voted to start dangerous building proceedings against Bradstreet’s limited liability company and the owner of another property in Randolph.

But Bradstreet had been working to stabilize the foundation, he told Selectman Matthew Drost earlier this summer. And in August, Bradstreet attended a Board of Selectmen meeting with an update on both 21 and 25 Kinderhook St.

Over the summer, the roof at 25 Kinderhook gave way. Bradstreet said he took off the roof by hand and stabilized the structure so that Frank Strollo, the house’s former owner could remove his belongings.

Attempts to reach Strollo were unsuccessful.

Bradstreet committed to have the house torn down by the end of September, but both houses have already been torn down.

When the two-story traditional-style houses are done, they are each expected to have three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms and open concept main floors.

“It will be nice to see those two properties have nice, livable houses on them,” Drost said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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