St. John Valley

Van Buren awarded $100,000 grant to demolish dilapidated buildings, add pocket park

VAN BUREN, Maine — Van Buren won a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant to tear down several dilapidated buildings on Main Street and build a park in their place. 

The town partially tore down the building at the corner of Bridge and Main streets last year after the old hardware store, which closed nearly 15 years ago and has been vacant since, started to be a safety hazard. But the project has remained unfinished for months, the wreckage cordoned off by orange plastic fencing. 

Costs to demolish the collapsed buildings are estimated at $75,000. The town has already spent $27,000 on assessment of asbestos on the property. 

With funds to complete the demolition secured, Town Manager Nancy Troeger said she hopes to finish the tear-down this summer and begin park construction soon after — though the exact timeline will depend on when the money moves through the state and becomes available to the town.

Early in the process, the town engaged B R Smith Associates, a Presque Isle engineering firm, for the project. The building has stood for so long that part of its foundation might be supporting Main Street, and could have to be worked into the final landscape design of the park. While the council has considered preliminary ideas for park design, there are no final plans yet.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides this CDBG grant to low-to-mid income communities seeking to improve living conditions and expand economic opportunities. It includes a requirement for a 25 percent contribution from the town — in this case, $25,000.

Revitalizing Van Buren’s downtown is a top priority for the Town Council, and a discussion that makes its refrain at most council meetings.

“We’re excited. [The grant is] going to help the community,” Councilor Paul Nadeau said. “We’re going to go through the process, get it done, get it cleaned up, and move onto the next item on our goal list of things we need to take care of.” 

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.