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Historic Pres Comm Minutes 2006-03-20
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City of Gardiner
Historic Preservation Commission

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      6 Church St.                                                                                                        Telephone 207-582-6892
      Gardiner, Me. 04345                                                                                           Fax             207-582-6895


REGULAR MEETING
MINUTES

March 22, 2006
Gardiner City Hall, Council Chambers

Present:        Clarence McKay, Chair           Mike Giberson   Gail Ham                                                Norma McDonough                 Kirk Mohney     Geri Robbins-Doyle                                                               
Absent: Derrick Grant, Alternate                Victor Tessari, Alternate
                
Also Present:   David Cichowski, Code Enforcement Officer
       Francis Grey – Recording Secretary
Al Jasinski                     Gifford Swanson
                                                                        
1.)     Call Meeting to Order
Clarence McKay called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM

2.)     Roll Call
Roll call was taken.
                
Consideration of December 20, 2005 Minutes

Geri Robbins-Doyle made a motion to accept the minutes as written.  Mike Giberson seconded the motion.  It was noted that Norma McDonough and Kirk Mohney were not present on Dec. 20 and so would not vote on the minutes.
Vote: 3 in favor. 0 opposed. Motion passed.

        NEW BUSINESS

4.)     Consideration of a Certificate of Appropriateness from Lemon Lime Enterprises, LLC, Gifford Swanson, Applicant
        Proposal: To replace existing 3rd floor windows in rear of building to match 2nd floor windows (Jeld-Won Zap Pack Wooden windows)
        Location: 279 Water Street, City Tax Map 37, Lot 119
        Land Use Ordinance Reference: Section 9, Article F.

It was noted that Gail Ham arrived at this point.  
Geri Robbins-Doyle said she looked at the back of the building.  The windows that have already been installed look really nice.
Mr. Swanson said these ones for the third floor match that.  The reason we’re doing it now is I had a tenant move out, and most of one window is out completely.  One’s cracked in half and was used as a cigarette ashtray.  The third one just has a crack in it.  At this point in time it just seemed, we might as well do them all.  It’ll be the same window we have on the second floor.  
Kirk Mohney said, we’re talking about the very top floor, is that right?
Mr. Swanson said, correct.
Kirk Mohney said, those look like they are replacement windows from somewhere else?
Mr. Swanson said, they were.  They were replaced probably in the late 1970’s or so.
Kirk Mohney said, they are pretty thick.
Mr. Swanson said, right, they are an inch and one quarter to an inch and five eighths.  The ones we had replaced were seven eighths.
Kirk Mohney said, a big difference.  
Mr. Swanson said, again, the opening wouldn’t shrink or change, it just snaps into place again.  
Geri Robbins Doyle made a motion to grant a Certificate of Appropriateness to Lemon Lime Enterprises to replace existing 3rd floor windows in the rear of the building to match the 2nd floor windows, which are going to be the wooden ones.    
Kirk Mohney seconded the motion.  

Kirk Mohney said he would like to note for the record that the windows that are being replaced are replacement windows themselves, they are not historic.  

Vote: 6 in favor.  0 opposed.  Motion passed.

Gail Ham asked Gifford, do I remember correctly, once you said, some windows you had put in  were not what you had ordered?
Mr. Swanson said, they came in with aluminum on the muntin, and we had ordered wood, but because it was special ordered, we couldn’t send it back.
Gail Ham said, and these aren’t the same?  They were on the front?
Mr. Swanson said, no, all the wooden ones that I ordered before came in with that aluminum on the muntins, not on the frame of the window itself.  What I’m hopeful is that because that part of it is not wood, if I wind up doing the rear of the building on the first floor, I think those windows are the same size as the second floor, so I might be able to swap those to the back and bring the wooden ones to the front.

5.)     Consideration of a Certificate of Appropriateness from Renbro, Applicant, Al Jasinski, Applicant’s Agent
        Proposal: To install triple track aluminum storm windows
        Location: 169 & 181 Water Street, City Tax Map 37, Lot 1162 & 164
        Land Use Ordinance Reference: Section 9, Article F.
        
        Clarence McKay said, are these storm windows going to be painted?
Mr. Jasinski said they will be bronze in color.  There are three colors: white, bronze, or almond.  The bronze will blend into the building better than the white or almond.  
Dave Cichowski said they come that way  baked, it’s not like a paint you would buy in a hardware store that would peel, it’s done in the process when they extrude the aluminum and so it’s probably guaranteed, I don’t know how many years, but probably a good number of years.  On the fourth page of your packet it lists the colors as white, bronze, almond, and black.  It sounds like Al felt the bronze was keeping in style with the rest of the look of the building.  
Geri Robbins-Doyle said if you put white on it it would look so blatant.
Kirk Mohney said, you have several different styles of windows, and the existing windows on the second floor of your main building, the Patten Block, those are two over twos, right?  Those have a semi-circular head that’s wood.  The window itself is not, doesn’t have that profile, but at those levels its pretty straightforward.  But when you get to the top, that’s a round arched window.  
Mr. Jasinski said, that’s going to have to have plexiglass put over it.   They don’t make a storm window curved.  That’s not available anywhere.  So it would have to be just a sheet of plexiglass affixed right to the existing window.
Kirk Mohney said, so is that going to have any kind of frame, or is something at the meeting rail to just support the size of the sheet?
Mr. Jasinski said, it would just be affixed to the existing window.  
Geri Robbins-Doyle said, the plexiglass would be the oval part attached to it?
Mr. Jasinski said yes, the hole would be cut out to the shape of the whole window.
Kirk Mohney said, so the triple track storms will not be used on that.
Mr. Jasinski said, on that floor, no.  There is no such animal available on the market.
Clarence McKay said, so the entire window is going to be plexiglass?
Mr. Jasinski said, on that third floor, where the curved windows are, yes sir.
Clarence McKay said, when we met down there, didn’t we talk about the feasibility of replacing the present windows?
Mr. Jasinski said, you’re talking about a $150,000 project to replace those windows, versus about $15,000 for just using the triple tracks.   
Clarence McKay said, you’ve abandoned that idea?
Mr. Jasinski said, yes, because of the expense of it.
Clarence McKay said, you use those upper floors?
Mr. Jasinski said, yes, the very top floor is just used for storage in the Patten building, and the second floor is a sales floor in both buildings.
Kirk Mohney said, I presume the storm windows will be manufactured in such a way that the meeting rails on the storm windows will coincide with the meeting rails of the windows that are there?
Mr. Jasinski said, I am almost positive of that.
Geri Robbins-Doyle said, it wouldn’t be any wider than what’s existing there now, right?
Mr. Jasinski said, I do not know that measurement.
Kirk Mohney said, but you’d be attaching those to the outer frame beyond the window frame within the brick, right?
Mr. Jasinski said yes.  And by putting these on, it preserves the windows that are there to meet the historical standard, plus it meets the president’s request for energy conservation.
 
Kirk Mohney made a motion to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness with the condition that triple track aluminum storm windows are to be used on all the windows with the exception of the upper story round-arched windows in the Patten Block, and that the storm windows will be bronze finish, and that on the upper windows in the Patten Block that plexiglass will be affixed to the frames rather than storm windows, and that the storm windows will be designed and manufactured such that the meeting rails of the storm windows match the meeting rails of the existing windows.  
Geri Robbins-Doyle seconded the motion.

Gail Ham said, when you put the plexiglass in, is it inside a frame?  Will the second and third floor windows be one color and the top windows be another?
Mr. Jasinski said, I don’t think you would really notice it where it is clear.
Clarence McKay said, how are you going to attach the plexiglass?
Mr. Jasinski said, just drill and screw right through it.  I don’t think you’ll even notice it’s on the existing window frame.
Gail Ham said, so we’ll be seeing the color of the third floor windows as they are, which is kind of an ivory color?  
Mr. Jasinski said, no, it’s an old bluish-gray heavily weathered paint color.  I have some pictures if you want.  
Gail Ham said, could they be painted to go with the others?  I thought it was an ivory.
Mr. Jasinski said it’s more of an old heavy weathered gray.  
Gail Ham said, that’s right, it’s the other windows that have the ivory.  
Clarence McKay said, so the plexiglass will be a clear glass?
Mr. Jasinski said, yes, sir.
Clarence McKay said, does anyone find plexiglass over time turns cloudy or creamy looking?
Kirk Mohney said, I would expect it to yellow over time.
Gail Ham said, and sometimes it also will pit.  
Mr. Jasinski said, regular glass, if it’s not cleaned over time, will do that too.  I don’t think there will be an awful difference between the glass and plexiglass.  It’s still going to weather, just like the glass will weather.  
David Cichowski said, on one of the pictures I see a pane in the middle window that’s missing.  Is that going to be replaced before the storm window is put on, or are you just going to leave the glass out of it?  It doesn’t look good aesthetically, but it’s not going to give you much energy savings if you just put a storm window there.
Mr. Jasinski said we can replace that pane.  It’s gone, fallen out.  The whole thing fell out on the sidewalk, so it’s totally destroyed.  We can manufacture a piece to replace that with, yes.

David Cichowski said, as Gail said, it’s up to you, but if you felt the top plexiglass was going to be such a difference in the paint color, that possibly we could ask if they would paint just the part that would show the most, facing the street, that would match the color of the storms so that it would all be the same as a unit all the way up and down the three floors.
You could stipulate something as a condition that if the plexiglass became unsightly, it would require maintenance.  When you clean glass or plexiglass and get scratches on it, those scratches tend to whiten and get that opaque look, so I’m wondering if it’s just from sunlight or if its at a cleaning level because of putting solvents, windex, and different things, and rubbing it, adding to that whiteness.  Possibly being up so high, and being on the least weather exposed side, they will be better protected from the elements.  

Norma McDonough said, as long as they are not doing anything to the existing window, they can put aluminum windows over the historical, and it is acceptable?
Kirk Mohney said, it’s a valid question.  
David Cichowski said, in some ways it preserves the original window.  You don’t think of a storm window as a historical permanent fixture, you hope that some future owner will restore the original windows, but you are protecting what is there now.  
Kirk Mohney said a lot of architects say the same thing, why would we want to put storm windows on this?  But it preserves the original fabric.  If they are done right, you can get equal or greater thermal efficiency.  The one thing I would ask Al, when you install the storm windows, are you going to do anything to the window sills to preserve them or paint them?
Mr. Jasinski said, we hadn’t planned on anything.  
Clarence McKay said, what is the condition of the sills now?
Mr. Jasinski said, they’re in pretty tough shape, but they’re sound enough to hold the storm windows.
Gail Ham said, in Preservation Brief #9, it says, arch topped storms are available for windows with special shapes, and I’m wondering if there are companies that do special windows for commercial buildings.  Replacement windows are becoming so much more popular and more efficient, that probably storm windows are being phased out of production, to some degree, and that the type of storm window that was available years ago is probably not available anymore because they are overall less cumbersome to have in the long run.  I was wondering if there are manufacturers that specialize in storm windows for commercial style.
Mr. Jasinski said, both Portland Glass and Coastal Glass have told me they are not available.
David Cichowski said it’s possible you could find them somewhere in the United States, but the cost would be substantially different.  In the past 20 years, nobody builds a new house and puts storms on it.  30 years ago it was different.  If it has an arched top, you couldn’t slide them up and down.  The third floor arched windows don’t open anyhow.  
Norma McDonough said, my concern is the integrity of the sills.  They may or may not hold the storms.  What if the sills are not up to snuff?  There could be moisture in there and cause more damage, and these storm windows which are to prevent heat loss will fall out on the sidewalk.  
Mr. Jasinski said, the sills are deteriorated, no doubt, but not to the point that they will not hold the screws.  I’m very confident of that.  
David Cichowski said, the contractor would be putting his own liability at stake if they thought there were that danger of a five-foot storm window blowing out onto the street and hitting somebody.  Any contractor would come back if he felt that it was in doubt.  

Kirk Mohney re-stated his motion: to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness with the condition that triple track aluminum storm windows are to be used on all the windows with the exception of the upper story round-arched windows in the Patten Block, and that the triple track storm windows would have the bronze finish, and that the 3rd floor round arched windows in the Patten Block would be plexiglass sheets attached to the frames rather than the storm windows, and that the meeting rails of the storm windows are to match the meeting rails of the existing windows.
Geri Robbins-Doyle re-stated that she had seconded the motion.

Vote: 5 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention. (Gail Ham) Motion passed.

OTHER BUSINESS
        
Kirk Mohney said Linda Matychowiak had spoken to him about a potential buyer of the MacDonald’s Bakery.  They are interested in maintaining the bakery with its equipment.  They are interested in taking off the MacDonald’s Bakery storefront and returning that storefront to a configuration that is more like what is on Moda Bella and A1 To Go.  
Mike Giberson asked, what did the building look like before it had the baked enamel façade that’s on it now?
Kirk Mohney said, I have two photos of that block.  That block of four was constructed after the fire.  One photo is of the street in the 1890’s or 1880’s.  A second photo was taken during preparation to build the existing post office in the early ‘teens.  It looks like the storefront was comprised of very large panes of glass in that period.  
The members discussed the storefront facades in the photographs.
Geri Robbins-Doyle said, when MacDonald’s was in the first round of façade grants, I thought it was stated that it was changed over to its present use in the 1950’s.  I wonder if there would be pictures from that time.
Clarence McKay said, I remember taking pictures at that time.
Mike Giberson said, when those grants were given, it was to be refurbished and re-done as it is now.
Geri Robbins-Doyle said, that existing façade money didn’t get used, so the new owners could carry that over.

Kirk Mohney said, the Gumpertz and Heger report, the Building Envelope Assessment, shows the configuration very much like the photo.  “Bakery Storefront aluminum and laminate panels.”  “Bakery Storefront is essentially intact and in good condition.  Although not original and not sympathetic to the original architecture of the building, as an essentially intact representative example of period design that is roughly 50 years old, it may soon be considered to have or may already have historic value.”  The other piece of information is, when Chris Glass, the architect from Camden, worked on the storefront designs in Gardiner, in the 80’s, I don’t know if you’ve encountered these, but one of our discussions we talked about whether we could get new copies of those and make sure we have the whole set.  And I contacted the architect and he does still have the originals from which copies could be made, and it seemed as though there were more than we have.  That’s something that if we had some money to do that, I would like to pursue getting a new set.  But in any event, these were his notes.  What I said to Linda, strictly from my standpoint as an architectural historian, was that that 50’s storefront is of a piece, from a period in time.  In the 1950’s and then in the 1960’s and later, those campaigns went so far as to cover entire facades.  In the last 20 or 30 years, so many of those have been removed and the 19Th century building behind it revealed again and oftentimes restored, that we have lost a lot of that period architecture that pertains to commercial storefronts.  A lot of them were bad to begin with, they didn’t stand the test of time.  But, from my perspective, before I would embrace the idea to restore that storefront to what it looked like, and all four of them alike, I would want to consider whether that storefront from the 50’s, has acquired the significance that Simpson and Gumpertz recommend.  Whether the Commission should try to work to preserve it, or at least it needs to be carefully documented, and whatever goes back has to be of high quality because from my perspective, if it were removed we’ve lost a piece of the mid-twentieth  century commercial architecture and it’s a resource that is very fragile because even whole buildings from the 50’s are removed daily.  The stuff is so ephemeral.  Lisbon Street is Lewiston is a good example where wholesale facades were put up in that period and most of those if not all of them are gone.

Gail Ham said, what do you think the life of that particular one is, Kirk, because I’ve noticed it looking sadder this year in terms of the detail that’s on the little baker and the color.

Kirk Mohney said, I don’t know.  When that application came for a façade grant, they were going to restore it, and I got the sense at that time that the underlying panel was steel.  It kind of looks like it’s rusted.  If its not porcelain enamel then its some other kind of finish, then I don’t know about how easily it can be restored or how you would restore the baker part.   The other question is, they wouldn’t want to retain the MacDonald’s bakery sign, probably original, authentic, it went with the storefront, if  they kept the bakery piece and put in the new style sign that was their name, first of all is that MacDonald’s bakery sign larger than what the sign ordinance would allow to go up, and if that’s the case, would there be any way to argue, in the interest of preserving the sense of the storefront, could they put something back there that the ordinance might not otherwise allow them to as far as the size of the lettering or the entire size of that ex-bakery sign.  

David Cichowski said on the signs, there was a memo when I came about a lot of storeowners with neon lights downtown.  I talked to Unicel, they left their sign in the window but they did unplug it.  I talked to Bank of America, but not with much success.  It may be on a timer.  It may vary by day of the week, but some people drive by and say there is no light on, and other people drive by coming to a board meeting and they say that it’s on.  I have seen it on one night, so I said, if you don’t have a switch for it, could you just unscrew the light bulbs?  You would have to change them at some time.  When you’re on Water Street, there’s an ATM, and on the front of that is their whole insignia and that’s all lit up.  They may need a directional light to light up where you’re pressing the numbers, but it doesn’t need “Bank of America” on it.  I’m still trying to get them to comply voluntarily.  Down the street, the clause in the 204 Revision about signs in the downtown area says that anybody who had a lit sign before that time, it couldn’t be enforced that they have to take it out.  The Jewelry store had just an “Open” neon sign in the window, and they turned it off.  Unicel turned theirs off.  Gerard’s Pizza had one that said “Pepsi.”  They unplugged theirs.  The Bakery has a lit sign, which you’re talking about.  They have a neon sign in the window that just says “Bakery,” not their name, which has been there since the 1950’s.  The porcelain on the bottom is from an era, and that neon sign goes with it.  Tilbury Tavern has a small one above their door, which includes their name, which I thought had been there for quite a while.  The Billiards place has a “Miller” one hanging which is visible at night.  I thought that if we could get them to comply with the “no neon signs” voluntarily, the board would be happy to see that brought about.  

Clarence McKay said, is that what’s considered art deco?  Kirk Mohney said, it’s more of “moderne” style.  
Gail Ham said, once she traveled in a city with very nice Roman baths.  The whole city was abuzz.  The question was, should they take down the Georgian buildings to get to the Roman?  If the spirit of the new owners was to go to an earlier period with high quality, can one say you can’t do that?  This building is unique, but is it possible to say, “oh, sorry?”  It’s like the Georgian crescent, you can’t take it down.  Well, they did!
Kirk Mohney said, the standards for rehabilitation says, “changes to a property that have acquired historic significance in their own right will be retained and preserved.”  Sometimes that applies when there is a historic person associated with a property and they make significant additions or changes to an earlier building.  This is more from an architectural standpoint.
Mike Giberson said, they saw the visioning paintings that Christine Sullivan did.  They saw the one that shows A1 To Go, Moda Bella, and a bakery looking very cutesy, not like it looks at all, and said, could we do something like that?
Dave Cichowski said, is there a standard like with automobiles that after 25 years they have an antique quality?
Kirk Mohney said, generally 50 years.  That’s the criteria for listing a property in the National Register, unless it’s exceptionally significant, and then it can be less than 50 years.  In Preservation Brief #11, which is Rehabilitating Historic Storefronts, it says, once a decision is made to rehabilitate a historic commercial building a series of complex decisions faces the owner.  Among them, if the storefront has been modernized at a later date, should the later alterations be kept or the building restored to its original appearance, or an entirely new design chosen.   It comes down to, does the significance of the storefront and design really reflect the period, has it become an important character defining feature of that building and the Gardiner Historic District generally, or yes, is it from a later period, and yes it’s pretty intact but it’s really not a good example of the period design.
Mike Giberson said, I would say it’s a prime example of the period.  Just looking at it and looking at other mid-century architecture, it certainly has all of the characteristics.  It has the aluminum frame around the whole thing and the blue panels.  That seems to be a pretty good example of that time period.
Clarence McKay said, I’d feel something was lost if I came around that corner and it was gone.
Geri Robbins-Doyle said, from what Kirk was reading, if it can be documented that what’s there is at least 50 years old, the standards from the preservation brief speak to us.  
Clarence McKay said Don MacDonald of the MacDonald family is still living, and could provide information about the origins of the storefront façade and when it was put on.  
Kirk Mohney said, I would really love to know if he remembered did someone design it, did they buy it, was it purchased from some bakery supplier?
Kirk Mohney said, if that had to come off, could you put something in that same style of lettering with your new name, and if that existing sign is larger than what the ordinance would permit, could there be some offset to the fact that if they are saving this and you’ve identified that as a piece of it, could there be some leeway in the application of the sign ordinance to allow them to use the same style name rather than the MacDonald’s.
Clarence McKay said, I think it would be to their disadvantage to change the name.
David Cichowski said, I don’t see how you could separate the name and the sign from the historic value of it, in my opinion.
Kirk Mohney said, you might not be able to.
Mike Giberson said, in Paris they are not allowed to remove any of the original signage when a building is renovated and it changes use.  
Clarence McKay said, there was another store, Stan Allen’s Paint Store.  
Geri Robbins-Doyle said, it would be helpful if Clarence could make contact with Mr. MacDonald about documenting the origins of the storefront.
Francis Grey said, isn’t it a principle of granfathering that if you have a nonconforming sign under the sign ordinance, a new sign could be installed that was no more nonconforming than the old sign?
David Cichowski said, it goes in that realm slightly, but sometimes when you change something, you lose those grandfathering rights.

Norma McDonough said, I Norma McDonough on this day resign my position on the Historic Preservation Commission.  I was asked by Mayor Brian Rines to sit on this board.  This is at no fault of any particular person’s influence; I am not interested in this volunteer position and I have been asked to be part of another entity here in town which I feel I can be much more productive.  And I appreciate the opportunity, but this is not my passion.
Geri Robbins-Doyle said, thank you.
Kirk Mohney said, I’m glad you will give the community your energy in some other capacity.

Geri Robbins-Doyle said, we talked about the lit signs.  Thank you to Dave for your work on that.  

6.)     Adjourn
        
        Geri Robbins-Doyle made a motion to adjourn. Mike Giberson seconded the motion.    
        Vote:  5 in favor. 0 opposed. Motion passed.
Meeting adjourned.


 
 
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