WATERVILLE – The former property of Sacred Heart Church on Pleasant and Middle Streets is once again being considered for use, this time by Ware-Butler Building Supply.
On Tuesday, City Council is to consider referring to the Planning Board for a public hearing and recommending a Ware-Butler request to rezone 5 Middle St. and part of 72 Pleasant St. from Residential-B to Contract Zoned District/Commercial -HAS .
The board meeting will be at 7 p.m. at The Elm at 21 College Ave. Those wishing to attend the meeting remotely can do so via a link on the city’s website. website.
Ware-Butler proposes to expand the existing office building at the old church and store construction materials in the parking lot adjacent to Middle Street. Ware-Butler is located at 14 North St. near the office building and parking lot.
The planning board would only make a recommendation on rezoning to the council, which has the final say on rezoning matters.
Mayor Jay Coelho said Monday he understands Ware-Butler had the former church property under contract.
“They are buying the church and the presbytery,” he said. “I don’t know what they’ll do with it.”
Contacted on Monday, Scott Wellman, Ware-Butler’s chief financial officer, said the rezoning application before council only affected the office building and the lower part of the car park.
“We are not currently changing any of the zoning for the church structure or parsonage,” Wellman said in an email.
He said that as the company grew, it ran out of office space and employees were in several different locations.
“With the purchase of the church property, we plan to relocate all of our corporate and office employees to one location using the existing office building with one addition,” Wellman said. “The location is perfect for us as it is adjacent to the first Ware-Butler location. Once we have secured the rezoning of the office building, we will seek to find the best use for the church and rectory buildings. We value a strong relationship with the citizens and the City of Waterville and will continue to be a great neighbor and member of the community.
A prior request to use the church property came from Jennifer Bergeron and her partners at BACAS, who wanted to have it rezoned so they could purchase it and open an event center there. After numerous meetings with the planning commission and council and much opposition from neighbors, Bergeron withdrew his application in August.
The Sacred Heart soup kitchen in the basement of the church closed in 2020. The soup kitchen operated separately from the church and paid monthly rent. The church was founded in 1908 and had not held weekend masses since 2006.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland announced in March 2020 that Corpus Christi Parish planned to put the church building, parsonage, and parsonage on the market.
In other business Tuesday, the council will consider awarding a $275,355 contract to Freightliner of Maine for a dual-packer recycling and garbage truck to supplement the city’s current dual-packer truck.
Funding for the truck would come from a 2021 general bond. The truck would arrive in about a year and allow the city to collect trash and recycling on a four-day weekly schedule.
In 2018, the city purchased a similar twin-packer truck from Freightliner for $218,236. City officials at the time said the truck, which collected both household trash and recycling, would allow residents to put recyclables curbside weekly instead of every two weeks.
This truck has been taken out of service intermittently for repairs over the years, forcing workers to dump both trash and recycling in the same truck.
Coelho said Monday that it was important for the city to purchase the second packing truck. The truck the city bought in 2018 used relatively new technology at the time and took time to iron out the bugs, according to Coelho.
“The truck works,” he said. “All utility vehicles go through an overhaul. It’s normal.”
Council will also consider authorizing the City Manager to use $100,000 of the unrestricted balance of the City’s Capital Reserve Account to help fund the removal of the failing ramp to the Waterville Public Library from the side from the building’s Elm Street. The funds are requested because there was not enough money from the bond proceeds to complete the library renovation project.
Councilors will also consider approving a $159,000 contract with Nickerson & O’Day Inc. of Brewer to carry out construction work on the ramp.
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