SKOWHEGAN — No Parking.

That’s the message to Somerset County commissioners from the county’s insurance carrier after instances of ice and snow crashing off the new courthouse roof and onto parking areas for county officials, police and jail transport vehicles.

The bright green, standing-seam metal roof was completed last year at a cost of $135,000. RTD Roofing of Madison did the job, approved by the commissioners, and changed it from a copper roof to a metal roof, said County Administrator Dawn DiBlasi.

“The copper roof was leaking badly in several places and desperately needed replacing,” she said.

Snow in early November, followed by ice, sleet, freezing rain and rain and more snow, forced the buildup of frozen material to shoot off the roof and land almost into High Street.

DiBlasi said she was nearly killed when a “huge chunk of ice” fell on her car.

“I went to my car. It was already backed up so the ice and snow would fall in front of my car and not hit my car when it fell,” DiBlasi said. “However, that day I went to leave, I backed my car out and had my rear end partially in the street, and I heard a loud crash. Then I saw snow and ice in an instant come down. The ice came down with such a force that the stoppers on the roof did not stop it and it sailed out all the way to my car, which was halfway in the street, and hit my hood.

“It hit my car with such force that it shook my whole car. Luckily it did not hit my windshield or it would have surely broke. If the ice had hit me instead of my car, I would most likely be dead today. The insurance company then advised that we are not to park out front during the winter months to avoid anyone getting hurt or any damage to anyone’s property.”

At a county commissioners meeting on Wednesday, commission Chairman Newell Graf Jr. said the letter from the Maine County Commissioners Association risk pool was clear: The area has to be blocked off. There are traffic cones and signs, but that might not be enough to keep motorists from parking there, despite large piles of ice and snow. He said concrete barriers might be needed to enforce the parking ban.

“If we had a claim, we would not be covered,” Graf said. “I think we’ll just open ourselves up to a big liability. It would cost this county a lot of money.”

In his letter to the county, Malcolm Ulmer, at risk pool offices in Augusta, said his recommendations to close off the area along High Street may not be popular because of limited parking spots elsewhere around the county building, but the advice is sound.

“It is my recommendation that parking not be permitted to occur in the parking spaces located on the High Street side of the courthouse until the county is certain that snow and ice are no longer present on the roof,” he wrote.

DiBlasi said the old copper roofing on the building was more porous, and the snow would drop straight down onto the sidewalk, not onto the parked cars. She said the damage to her car was estimated at about $1,000. The brick building was built in 1873, with an addition in 1904, and a second addition added in 1938. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

The nine parking spots to be eliminated for the winter include those used by the register of probate, register of deeds, two county commissioner spots, two county administration spots, reserve parking for police and prisoner transport vehicles.


Doug Harlow — 612-2367
[email protected]

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