This town-owned bait house in Seal Harbor will be evaluated to determine what structural improvements are needed. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Town-owned house on wobbly legs

MOUNT DESERT — The old bait house near the end of Dodge Point Road in Seal Harbor is a ramshackle relic, but one that town officials would like to save.

The building and .05-acres of land on which it sits were donated to the town by an adjacent property owner many years ago to be used by local fishermen. It is still frequently used.

Earlier this year, a representative of Maine Municipal Association Risk Management Services conducted a routine inspection of some of the town’s properties including the bait house.

“We were subsequently notified by one of their property and casualty insurance underwriters that for them to continue to provide insurance on the building we needed to have a structural evaluation done to identify any deficiencies,” Public Works Director Tony Smith said in a Nov. 29 memo to Town Manager Durlin Lunt.

Smith told the board of selectmen on Monday that some of the bait shack’s deficiencies are obvious.

“Some of the posts that used to be on the ground, holding the building up, are two feet off the ground,” he said. “There’s rot. But it can be saved.”

Board of selectmen Chairman John Macauley said he thinks it should be.

“Even if it weren’t utilized, it’s something we don’t want to let go of, just to make sure it’s there if [the fishermen] need to use it,” he said. “Because once you let those things go, you never get them back.”

The selectmen voted to authorize Smith to contract with Hedefine Engineering of Ellsworth to conduct the structural evaluation for $2,100.

Smith said it is his opinion that, following the evaluation, “We will have to make an investment in the building, both engineering-wise and construction of renovations, to bring it up to today’s safety and design standards.”

The bait shack isn’t taxed because it is owned by the town, but its value is assessed at $3,000. The postage stamp-sized lot is assessed at $487,900.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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