The former Martel Elementary School at East Avenue and Lisbon Street in Lewiston is being recommended for a fire station or disposal.

LEWISTON — With school out permanently at Martel Elementary and a decision looming on what to do with the building, the Planning Board took the first step Monday night, recommending in a 5-0 vote the city consider it for a possible new fire station or dispose of it.

The latter recommendation would have the city put it out to bid with a request for proposals, according to City Planner Doug Greene.

The School Department is expected to turn the building, built in 1922, and its 3.21 acres over to the city around Oct. 1. Before the vote, City Administrator Ed Barrett told board members in a memo that staff thought it was best if the city did not take ownership, citing cost.

Lewiston’s comprehensive plan had recommended preserving it as a landmark and possible community center, saying the building “is critical to retaining Lewiston’s heritage.”

“The difficulty is all of that costs money,” Barrett said Monday. “Generally speaking, these kinds of buildings need to be updated and retrofitted. The biggest obstacle for the city retaining the building is the cost involved in maintaining and staffing it.”

Martel Elementary School at the corner of East Avenue and Lisbon Street.  Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The longtime elementary school at 860 Lisbon St. sits on the busy corner with East Avenue.

The building is 29,803 square feet on the inside, with about 39,000 square feet and a playground outdoors, according to Greene.

The assessed value is $1.5 million.

It is zoned office residential and would need to be rezoned to allow retail.

Students who attended the school will head to the new Connors Elementary School off Bartlett Street in the fall.

The City Council will take up the Planning Board’s recommendation in September, and Barrett said he hopes to have recommendations from the Finance Committee to consider at the same time.

“My best guess is at some point we will be asking people to put in a proposal,” he said.

The city has budgeted enough to cover basic utilities over the winter.


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