Thursday, April 24, 2014
View Former rubber plant in a larger map
WESTBROOK - The dilapidated Maine Rubber building will come down.
After years of negotiations between city officials and the owners of the downtown eyesore, the City Council approved an agreement Monday that requires the demolition of the former rubber factory within 90 days.
Maine Rubber Co. moved out of the 27,000-square-foot building at 942 Main St. in the late 1990s. Now, the building is seen as an impediment to development in the western entrance to the city's downtown.
"The discussion of this initiative is already increasing interest and investment in properties along the westerly end of Main Street," City Administrator Jerre Bryant wrote in a memo to the council.
During its meeting Monday, the council also approved a $50,000 line of credit for Peter Profenno to make improvements to two buildings he owns in the same part of town, through the city's revolving loan fund.
Demolishing the former rubber factory "is the first big domino to fall in a positive direction," Assistant City Administrator Bill Baker said after the meeting.
Baker said a $125,000 Community Development Block Grant, which the city secured in 2011, will cover the cost of the demolition.
Part of the agreement with the building's owners, David and Jim Elowitch, was a new contract zone for their property that allows a drive-through bank.
The council voted 6-1, with Victor Chau opposed, in favor of the zoning change.
Chau has said he opposed the agreement because his constituents don't believe that a bank should be built on the property.
Also as part of the agreement, the city traded a section of Saco Street in front of the Elowitches' property for a slice of their land along William Clarke Drive, where the city wants to add a traffic lane.
The short section of Saco Street, which connects Main Street and William Clarke Drive, will be discontinued, likely diverting traffic onto Mechanic Street, according to a study.
Sebago Technics, which did the traffic study, recommends adding turning lanes on Mechanic Street by restriping the road.
The council also approved the land swap by a vote of 6-1, with Chau opposed.
The Elowitches were not at the meeting. The only comment before the votes came from Mark St. Germain, another downtown property owner, who said he supported razing the building as a way to spur development in the area.
Also Monday, the council gave preliminary approval to the proposed 2013-14 budget of $56.6 million for municipal, school and county expenditures combined.
Although the proposed budget is $1.5 million more than this year's, it would reduce the tax rate by 21 cents, to $17.19 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
While the county tax rate went up 3 cents, the proposed municipal budget for the year starting July 1 would lower the tax rate by 24 cents and the schools' tax rate would stay the same.
The council will take a final vote on the budget May 13. Residents will vote on the proposal $32.3 million school budget on June 11.
Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: