Published Date Written by Barbara TetreaultBERLIN – The sale of Bickford Place at 145 Main Street to a Maine development company was approved by the city council Tuesday night. But future plans for the building have not been revealed.
The council authorized the Berlin Industrial Development and Park Authority to sell the building to Square One Construction LLC ., for $315,000. Square One Construction is not registered with either the Maine or N.H. Secretary of State’s office.
Speculation has centered on Family Dollar moving into Bickford Place. The resolution states Square One Construction wishes to move its existing Main Street retail store into the building. BIDPA is also seeking grant money to renovate the building currently occupied by Family Dollar, which the city took by tax deed this spring.
During the work session, Mayor Paul Grenier raised concerns over conditions at the new Bickford Park. Part of the city’s renovation of the Bickford Place property, the park was built on the south side of the property and retained by the city for public use.
Grenier said he was walking in the downtown early one evening and checked out the park. He said it was not as clean as he expected.
“It looked a little unkempt,” he said.
Grenier said the park was designed to be a showplace for downtown events and not a place for people to hang out late at night. He said there were cigarette butts all over the little pocket park.
City Councilor Diana Nelson said the city may want to consider putting in place regulations that would set hours for the park when it is not hosting official events.
Main Street Program Director Sylvia Poulin said she also observed the issues raised by Grenier. She said the Main Street Program has hired Northern Human Services to clean the park and said the group has done some work there. She said cigarette smoking in the park is a major problem and agreed the city may have to put some regulations in place.
Councilor Mike Rozek noted the city had a similar problem with pets in city parks and took action to curb the problem. He said the council may have to close the park at night. Councilor Lucie Remillard suggested looking at how other communities handle such issues.
City Planner Pamela Laflamme reminded the council that BIDPA is selling Bickford Place. She noted one of the entrances to the store is through the park. She suggested waiting to see if a tenant moves into the building before making any decision on hours for the park.
The 8,266 square foot Bickford Place formerly housed a Rite Aid store. It was donated to the city in 2009 and turned over to BIDPA to manage. BIDPA invested just over $400,000 to install a steel fretwork façade on the exterior of the building and develop the park, which includes a water foundation and outdoor canopy.
This summer, the park has been used to host musical entertainment on Thursday nights.