Town councilors will again consider a plan to redevelop the old Winslow Junior High School, above, in partnership with the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, after rejecting a similar proposal in 2021. The plan would put roughly 44 affordable housing units in the former school, located at 22 Danielson St. Morning Sentinel file photo

WINSLOW — The Town Council is again considering building more than 40 affordable housing units inside the old Winslow Junior High School building after voting down a similar proposal three years ago.

Under the plan, roughly 44 affordable housing units and office space for several town government departments would be built in the unused schoolhouse at 6 Danielson St. as part of a partnership with the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program.

The council voted down a similar proposal from KVCAP in 2021 and was considering demolishing the schoolhouse last year, in large part due to environmental concerns about the building.

David Pelton, KVCAP’s director of real estate development, said at a Town Council meeting Monday that the project is still viable as legislators in both Augusta and Washington, D.C., make more funding available for affordable housing projects.

“A lot of money is being put into affordable housing. To fund a project, this is a good time to put in an application,” he said. “There’s money being put into other parts of the state in other towns. Why not try to get some coming into Winslow?”

KVCAP, in 2020, had proposed building at the former school more than 40 units for people 55 years and older. The plan also called for renovating the school’s gymnasium and auditorium space for leasing to a third party, with KVCAP agreeing to pay for all of the affordable housing and raise funds for half of the cost of additional renovation.


However, talks fell apart in mid-2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic, which briefly brought students back to the building, and worries from town officials about being “landlords” of the gym and auditorium.

Concerns still remain about the building’s safety and the costs associated with renovating the space. Fire blocks within the walls and parts of the school’s roof likely contain asbestos, according to a 2023 environmental study commissioned by the town, and oil has leaked into the building’s basement from a number of underground oil tanks not properly drained when the building fell out of use.

The council considered demolishing the schoolhouse last year but held off in part due to the cost of remediating the building’s asbestos and oil contamination.

Councilor Ray Caron was on the committee that looked into the previous proposal. He said at Monday’s council meeting that the schoolhouse has deteriorated heavily since it fell out of use four years ago, and that he did not support redeveloping the site as the town could save money in the future by demolishing the building now.

“The past council defeated it and so we have no other option at the present time but to demolish that building because this project was defeated,” he said. “(Redevelopment) is not an option at the present time.”

No action was taken on the project at Monday’s meeting. Town Manager Ella Bowman said the town was open to the idea, but that the council should be careful about investing in another aging town property, especially as the town continues paying off existing projects.


Winslow has taken on a number of expensive infrastructure projects in recent years that have cumulatively cost nearly $10 million.

“Does that property have value to the taxpayers of (Winslow) for another municipal building?” she said. “I think we have to really consider this. Do we want housing up there, or do we need to have a new library and parks and recreation department?”

Under the proposal, the town would retain ownership of the entire building, and KVCAP would again cover all of the costs to build housing. Because the schoolhouse is over 50 years old, Pelton said it qualifies for additional funding as a historic building, though such grants would likely come with certain stipulations because the auditorium and gym are directly attached to the building.

“If you’re looking at doing anything with this building you can access some historic tax credit funding for the whole building,” he said. “The thing with the historic tax funding credit to renovate something like that is you have to keep it. You can’t just say, ‘We’re gonna slice up this auditorium into four apartments,’ or something. You have to keep it as an auditorium.”

If the project is approved by the council, Pelton estimated it would take 12 to 18 months from groundbreaking to opening, with the earliest possible opening date in 2026.

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