Bowdoinham’s code enforcement officer has ordered upgrades to the recycling barn that formerly housed the town’s solid waste and recycling program on Post Road.

The recycling barn is owned by David Berry. The town leased part of the building before moving its operation to the public works department in the fall of 2020 due to structural issues at the recycling barn.

This month, Berry launched a pilot recycling program that allows Bowdoinham residents to sort recyclables at home and deposit them through windows at the barn so they don’t have to enter the building. Berry said he is trying to demonstrate a different way to recycle and save the town money.

Selectmen last month considered taking steps toward classifying the barn as a dangerous building, which under state law allows selectmen to order repairs. The town tries to work with a property owner before taking the matter to selectmen or to court, Town Manager Nicole Briand said in a previous interview.

The town’s code enforcement officer, Darren Carey, sent a letter to Berry on Tuesday stating no one from the public should be in the building until areas of the second and third floor are strengthened so they can carry more weight. Carey also requests a timeline for the work to be completed.

Berry said Thursday that he doesn’t expect the town’s order to hamper the free pilot recycling program in his building since it doesn’t require the public to go inside. It may close the gift shop, Berry said, which allows people to shop for free second-hand items.

Helen Watts, the structural engineer Berry hired, lists needed improvements to the barn in an April 1 letter to Berry. She disagrees that the building is dangerous.

“While this building has some ongoing maintenance and repair needs, common in any 60-year-old commercial building, it is my experience with buildings condemned as hazardous or dangers, this building is neither hazardous nor dangerous, which implies conditions that could affect life safety,” Watts states in the letter.

Watts notes in an April 2 email to Carey that the priorities are work on the east end wall and strengthening the floors for an occupied apartment on the third floor. In an April 7 email, Watts notes that as long as the floors aren’t overloaded, the general public can go into the gift shop and the recycling operation can continue.

Adding sheathing to the south wall and strengthening the roof framing should be done before next winter, Watts states.  The priority for strengthening the floors in the building depends on what the town wants to do with its recycling program, she adds.

Berry said Thursday that he has moved items around so the floors are not overloaded.

“Calling it a dangerous building is just a way to hold things up and take potshots basically, and I think it’s hard to understand why the town is taking this stance,” Berry said.

While he disagrees the building is dangerous, Berry said he feels he can work through the issues with the town.

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