A museum honoring Bucksport’s papermaking history might be created, and a historic downtown building could be saved.
But much of it depends on whether the town opts to move an entire structure as much as 50 feet and add a basement to it.
The circa 1881 passenger railroad station on Bucksport’s Main Street is unheated, and hundreds of artifacts displayed there by the Bucksport Historical Society are threatened by the building’s mold and mildew.
All of that would be fixed under the society’s proposal, said Larry Wahl, a society member.
If the historical society has its way, it would move the building closer to the road and add a basement to it that would house the papermaking museum. The building would also gain space for additional historical displays and community meetings, as well as public bathrooms. Outside, the move would allow room on the 0.28-acre plot for an amphitheater or other outdoor public space.
The proposal might be workable, but the Bucksport Town Council needs to know whether the building actually can be moved and how much it all would cost, Town Manager Susan Lessard said. So councilors voted 6-1 on Nov. 29, with Councilor Mark Eastman opposing, to hire an architectural firm to study the proposal.
“I don’t think anything is a done deal,” Lessard said. “The town is involved because the town owns the land it sits on.”
Eastman said he opposes hiring an architect until councilors explore all potential uses for the property, which is located downtown near the town marina, Camden National Bank and the Bucksport Waterfront Walkway.
“I feel we should be looking at how it could be an asset to the marina,” Eastman said Wednesday. “There wasn’t a fully developed plan.”
The town could lease the land to a commercial entity that could offset downtown’s lack of retail stores, or it could become office space, with public showers and bathrooms, for the marina, Eastman said.
Public showers and restrooms would be incorporated into the station, with community meeting space, as part of the historical society proposal, said Richard Rotella, the town’s community and economic development coordinator.
Moving the building toward the road could also create room for an outdoor amphitheater, Lessard said.
Moving the station is one recommendation in the 121-page AIM Development Action Plan for Tomorrow, a report with recommendations for redeveloping the former Verso paper mill site. The report is a step toward drawing grant money to help transform the mill site and downtown, and to help the Hancock County town recover from the 2014 closure of its paper mill, which employed 570 people.
Town officials will hire the local architectural firm, Lewis and Malm Architecture of Bucksport, for $4,750, Rotella said.
The council will discuss the fate of another historical building, a town-owned, 177-year-old former seminary building called Wilson Hall, when it meets Thursday at 7 p.m.