After car punches hole through Chelsea Town Office, officials pursue repairs, not replacement

CHELSEA — For the next several weeks, Chelsea town board meetings will be held in alternate locations while the Town Office, damaged in a crash last week, undergoes repairs.

Michael Pushard, chairman of the Chelsea Board of Selectmen, said Monday that town officials have started seeking estimates to repair a hole in the rear wall of the Town Office building.

“It appears a lady was pulling into the Town Office, and the eyewitness that was there said she came around the back of the building where our recycling bins are,” Pushard said. “It appears she went to step on the brake and her foot slipped off the pedal and hit the accelerator and basically all but went through the wall.”

Pushard said no one was seriously injured.

One wall of the Chelsea Town Office was damaged in an Aug. 3 crash. Gardiner Fire Department

Rick SiebergGardiner’s fire chief, said Gardiner Rescue responded to the crash but did not take anyone to the hospital.

As the result of impact, a section of the wall in the Code Enforcement office was pushed in, breaking brick, framing and wall board, and bowing in the baseboard heating.

Pushard said a temporary wall and braces have been erected to stabilize the building, and materials normally stored in that area have been moved to the meeting room and the office used by the assessor.

“We need a bricklayer, we need a carpenter, we need an electrician and a boiler technician,” he said, noting that the woman’s insurance company has contacted the town.

In the meantime, he said, public meetings are expected to be held at the Chelsea Elementary School, just north of the Town Office on Togus Road, or at the Chelsea Grange Hall, south of the Town Office on Togus Road, which is also Route 226. That information will be posted on the town’s website, chelseamaine.org.

Wednesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting will be held at the Chelsea school.

Pushard said the accident is not expected to speed up consideration of a new Town Office.

For several years, town officials have been looking into what it would take to replace the existing facility. Pushard said a town office committee, consisting of Chelsea’s three selectmen, the town manager, the clerks and several residents have met twice to review ideas of what they want in a new town office.

“We had some blueprints drawn up for a first draft so to speak, and that came in at $1.7 million and that was really more than what any of us anticipated,” he said.

That estimate reflects the higher prices driven by the higher costs of construction materials and interruptions in the global supply chain, and as a result, the project has been put on hold.

“As much as we would like to have a new Town Office, we’re not going to ask the residents to approve something that large, not in this economy,” he said.

« Previous