Cost of Mill Building to public should be considered

Dear Editor,

I am writing about the historic Mill Building. As a former member of the Historic Resources Commission, I testified at the recent City Commission meeting in favor of postponing a decision to demolish this building to give more time for the HRC to develop a plan and funding to save this historic building. That effort was soundly defeated. 

However, I believe there is an economic reason to reconsider the decision to demolish this historic building. When the City purchased the Mill Building on July 12, 2016 for $29,500 it became a City asset owned by all of the citizens of Lewistown. Considering a modest replacement value of $25/square foot for this 3,600 square foot brick building, the value of this asset would be $90,000 plus the $29,500 the City paid for it. The latest estimate of the cost to the taxpayers to demolish it is between $100,000 and $150,000. That seems to represent a cost to the taxpayer of approximately $219,500 to $269,000. 

A structural engineers report done for the City and dated Oct. 18, 2016 concluded that the “structural condition of this building is good, especially when considering that it is at least 90 years old.” Like any old building, there are a few issues that need to be addressed but the report concluded: “the resulting renovation and occupation (with the associated continued maintenance) will help keep the building in good structural condition and likely provide at least another 90 years off adequate structural life.” 

Now, if a private owner bought such a building and decided to tear it down, that is their decision to make. But for a governmental body to make such a decision should require a thorough public discussion of why that is the best course of action and use of public resources. 

Harvey Nyberg

Lewistown

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