Home Church community Waterville Council to Discuss the Purchase and Use of the Former Sacred Heart Church

Waterville Council to Discuss the Purchase and Use of the Former Sacred Heart Church


WATERVILLE – The Municipal Council of Tuesday There are plans to consider whether the city should purchase the former Church of the Sacred Heart for use as a soup kitchen, an overnight shelter for the homeless and for other community purposes.

The vacant church property at 72 Pleasant St. and 5 Middle St. once housed a basement soup kitchen that was not affiliated with the church itself.

Jennifer Bergeron, partner of the BACAS company, wanted to buy the property from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and turn it into an events center, but withdrew the proposal in August after it was rejected by neighbors.

The former property of the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart at 72 Pleasant Street in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson / Morning Sentinel File

Meanwhile, Reverend Maureen Ausbrook, who runs Starfish Village, a ministry of the Waterville Congregational United Church of Christ, proposed that the property be used to provide food for those in need, serve as an overnight shelter and be a place of warming and cooling. center. The main goal of Starfish Village is to help families become stable.

On Tuesday, councilors will consider asking City Manager Steve Daly to investigate or pursue the purchase of the church “for use as a feeding place and overnight shelter for the homeless population, and for d ‘other community uses’, according to the council’s agenda.

Mayor Jay Coelho said over the weekend that the city’s proposal to buy the Sacred Heart Church could include its use not only to help the hungry and homeless, but also for potential space. for council and other city meetings.

City councilor Claude Francke, whose ward 6 includes church property, said on Monday he only learned of the church’s proposal last Friday when the council’s agenda was released.

“My No. 1 problem is the First Amendment problem – the city’s entanglement with a religious organization,” Francke said.

He said any plans by the city to buy the church and lease the property to a religious organization should include a request for proposals or a tender.

Meanwhile, Coelho said the council could vote on Tuesday on a plan to donate $ 400,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act money to the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, which will be used for several purposes, including to help house the homeless. – shelter who are no longer allowed to stay in hotels. He said it would cost a lot less to make deals with private landlords than to put them up in hotels.

In other matters, Council will consider taking the first of two votes necessary to accept $ 32,904 from the Friends of Quarry Road to purchase and install an alpine tow rope at the Quarry Road recreation area.

The group raised money for towing, installation and staffing, according to a memo from parks and recreation manager Matt Skehan. The cable would be installed on a grassy area in front of the snow center at the foot of the old Alpine hill. Skehan’s memo says this area should be closed to snow sledding and the department would instead encourage sledding at Green Street Park in the south of town and the North Street Recreation Area.

“It is expected that the tow will operate on weekends from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. from mid-January until the February holidays, possibly with a few daylight hours after school, depending on demand,” indicates the memo. “We offer a package for all ages for the price of a $ 10 day ticket and a $ 50 season pass, with sales managed through the Visitor Center. Quarry Road Ski Club is running a learning to ski program for children in grades 4-8 this year, with a program capacity set at 25. ”

Councilors will also consider taking a second final vote to approve a loan of $ 5.28 million for capital improvements, including approximately $ 2 million for improvements and expansions to the North Street Recreation Area and the Pine Ridge Recreation Area.

Tuesday’s meeting will be at 7 p.m. at The Elm at 21 College Ave. and the public can attend or participate remotely via a link on the city’s website, www.waterville-me.gov.

Advisors will also take into consideration:

• Approval of a lease at the city’s Robert LaFleur municipal airport with MEVS Energy Waterville so that a solar farm can be established there.

• Awarding of a contract of $ 27,575 to MB Tractor Equipment of Fairfield for a wide lawn mower for the Parks and Recreation Department.

• Awarding of a $ 32,100 contract with Municipal Resources Inc. for a study on the benefits and salaries to be done for the city.

• Referring to the Planning Council a petition asking that stadium lighting be authorized at Drummond Field.

• Authorize the police department to adopt a K-9 program to be used for crime prevention, arresting criminals and locating missing persons.

• Is there an interest in holding future Council and Planning Council meetings at Albert S. Hall School.

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