BOWDOINHAM — Selectmen agreed Tuesday to meet with the owner of the town Recycling Barn and the engineer hired to inspect the building, whose findings are disputed by the owner.

In a Sept. 11 letter to the town manager, engineer Thad Chamberlain of Calderwood Engineering wrote: “Currently the building is unsafe to operate in.”

Chamberlain states the flooring, floor joists, beams and columns are undersized and overstressed. The roof trusses are undersized as well, he states. The south side of the building needs repair including the installation of plywood or sheathing on the exterior.

Chamberlain states in a Nov. 9 letter to the town that the barn can stay in use if it doesn’t exceed floor loads on the second and third floors and if the roof is kept clear of snow over the winter. The roof truss repairs and exterior wall sheathing repairs can start next spring, he states.

As a result of Chamberlain’s Sept. 11 letter, the town closed the barn and plans to open a temporary recycling operation at the public works building on Post Road in early December.

The building’s owner, David Berry, told selectmen that the structure is safe to use for the town’s recycling operation.

“I’m here as a local businessman and I’m talking to a tenant that I’ve had for 30 years and I’m trying to come up with a good faith effort to resolve some differences that we appear to have,” Berry said. “There’s clear language in the lease that outlines my responsibilities as a landlord. They require that my building is structurally adequate for the use of the tenant and I believe that is the case.”

He argued the most recent floor loads were assessed incorrectly.

“It’s cost the town a fortune; it’s cost me a lot of money,” Berry said. “All the people of  Bowdoinham have been out of service and all because the engineer made a mistake.”

Select board Chair David Engler said he and Interim Town Manager Nicole Briand talked to Calderwood Engineering last week. “We asked the very specific question: ‘Is there anything that you know of that would mitigate or change your (Sept. 11)  letter where you said the building was unsafe,’ and the answer was ‘no,'” Engler said.

Selectman Peter “Tony” Lewis suggested selectmen, Berry and the engineer meet to discuss the barn. As of Wednesday, that meeting hadn’t been scheduled.

“I am certainly committed to working with the board any way I can to keep our program going,” Berry said “It’s a good program and I think people require it and are looking forward to having some resolution of this impasse we seem to be at.”

Selectmen approve recycling facility contract

Selectmen Tuesday also approved spending up to $24,600 with Pine Tree Engineering. The firm will look at where the town could build a new recycling facility near the public works building on Pond Road.

Briand said this work will inform the solid waste committee, which is looking at the future of the recycling program. No decision has been made yet on whether the program will be housed long-term at the Recycling Barn or a new facility.

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