Sagging roof is concern

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — A sag in the roof of the Harbor House building on Main Street has led the town’s insurance carrier to raise the damage deductible on the structure from $1,000 to $10,000, selectmen learned Tuesday.

Town Manager Don Lagrange told the board that Maine Municipal Association Risk Management Services informed him of the change in a Feb. 11 email.

The century-old building, known as the Old Yellow Schoolhouse, is owned by the town. Harbor House Community Service Agency leases the building for $1 annually. The lease requires Harbor House to maintain the building and grounds.

The sag in the roof was spotted during a routine inspection done by the MMA. The town was asked to have an engineering study done to ensure the structural integrity of the roof. Selectmen decided to have Harbor House pay for the engineering study. The agency opted instead to have local contractor Eric Henry inspect the roof and prepare a report.

The town submitted Henry’s report, which concluded that the sag in the easterly slope of the roof is a “longstanding condition” and doesn’t present a problem at this time.

In her response, Susan Caston of the MMA said they would accept Henry’s report for now but with conditions.

“We would prefer a full engineers report,” Caston wrote. “However, we will accept this with the following stipulations.”

Those stipulations include quarterly inspections by and written reports from a professional contractor and the submission of a written snow load plan with details on when snow should be removed from the roof.

Caston noted the increase in the deductible, which went into effect on Feb. 24. She also advised Lagrange that MMA could take another step if the building is subject to “further deterioration.”

The building is valued by MMA at $1.19 million and insured at its replacement cost. Failure to address issues at the Harbor House building could lead to lowering coverage from replacement cost to actual cash value, she wrote.

This development also was a concern of selectmen. Lagrange reminded them that Harbor House is responsible for maintenance, which, he said, includes paying the deductible on any insurance claim, although “there probably will be an argument” about that responsibility.

Selectmen took no action but agreed with Lagrange’s suggestion that Harbor House budget for the engineering study.

“They should add this engineering report to their budget,” said Selectman Tom Benson.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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