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A Status Report on the Millinocket Historical Society
By Kathy Gagnon
Jan 24, 2008 - 1:51:44 PM

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MILLINOCKET -- The Millinocket Historical Society's search for a new home has come closer to becoming a reality. For the past three years, the search has been intensifying for several reasons. The first and most pressing reason has been a lack of space. Though members have worked very hard and done a great job of making the best of the limited space available within the Municipal Building, many items are still packed away due to lack of display space.

In addition, the Town of Millinocket has generously provided space in the Municipal Building to the Historical Society free of charge. However, as time goes by, the Town's need for this space to store records has grown. Another problem for the museum, being located in the Municipal Building, is accessibility to the public when the Municipal Building is closed or when court is in session.

The search has taken time and many options have been explored. Many of the buildings looked at were priced at over $100,000.00 and would have required extensive renovations and repairs. Also, their locations were not as visible. Other buildings were found to be unsuitable for various other reasons, such as flat roofs in disrepair, damp cellars, and being difficult or costly to heat. Several buildings being looked at were purchased by other parties before the Historical Society could begin negotiations for them. The former bank building downtown was one that many people had in mind for the museum; but it too, was purchased before the Historical Society could make an offer. Unfortunately, that building now sits vacant and unused.

Finally, the search led to a building located on Central Street with excellent visibility to the public and visitors, which is so important. This building is well built and has been kept in very good repair. The cellar is large and dry. The Central Street building has been inspected by the Town Code Enforcement Officer. The few flaws that were found can and will be easily brought up to code. Because it has been used as an apartment building, there is already paved parking on the property. Once the loan on the building is paid, it will be possible to remove outbuildings on the property and allow for even more parking with paving around the back of the building for better access as well.

An issue that has been seen as a problem to some is the issue of an appraisal to the building. What people may have overlooked is that there is always a difference between the assessed value of property versus the taxable value of that property. It is likely that the appraised value of this building is approximately $70,000 appraised as an apartment building and considering the current slump in rental property business. This would not reflect the value of this building after becoming a town museum rather than an apartment building and the elevation of worth due to its location as a business property. Appraisals are done strictly on what the appraiser sees and the current existing conditions. Any appraisal, at this point and under these circumstances, would not be accurate.

The Millinocket Historical Society's agreement for the purchase price of this building was for $90,000. The loan requested and approved from the Town of Millinocket to assist with this included an additional $9,000 to cover heating costs for the building for two years. The Historical Society has contributed $1,000 of their funds to this to total a cost of $100,000 to acquire this building. The loan agreement with the Town of Millinocket is for a total amount of $99,000 and is due for repayment in two years.

It has been agreed between the Town and MHS that during the two years, no renovations or changes to the building will be done until the loan balance has been paid in full. This stipulation is to ensure that if the MHS is unable to pay this loan in the two years provided, the Town will still be able to place the building on the market to recover the funds through the sale of the building. This agreement provides collateral for the Town on the loan. In the unlikely event that the building needs to be sold, the town should not incur a loss because active fundraising will be accumulating a balance to pay towards the loan amount so that the balance owed won‘t be for the entire $99,000.

During the next two years, MHS will work hard to find and apply for all available state and federal grants and to strongly pursue numerous fundraising campaigns so that we may pay this debt in full. It is our hope to accomplish this in less than the two years provided to us. The application for non-profit status has been filed and we are anticipating receiving our non-profit number in February. As soon as this number is received, a separate savings account will be established for the "Building Fund". A fundraising thermometer will be located in front of the building so that citizens can see how our progress is going.

MHS is already making use of the building by holding its meetings there. The museum itself is currently still located at the Municipal Building on the third floor and is open Thursdays, from 1-3 pm. Our Mission is to "gather, preserve, and present the History of Millinocket". With your help, we can accomplish this.

Anyone wishing to contribute donations to the Millinocket Historical Society Building Fund can send them to: Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, Millinocket, ME 04462.

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