NORWAY — Pigeons. Dead pigeons. Many dead pigeons and pile upon pile of pigeon poop.
While the years of emptiness of the historic 1910 Odd Fellows Hall has been a thorn in the side of Main Street, a glimpse through the storefront windows yields an even more concerning problem.
According to the USDA, that much pigeon poop indicates years of pigeon populations.
According to town records, the building at 380 Main St., and its owner – Jasim LLC of Westbrook – have been cited numerous times by the town code enforcement officers since April 2013 for broken windows – access points for the pigeons.
The most recent citation by CEO Scott Tabb in March has resulted in the windows being boarded up, according to Tabb.
However, this adherence to safety has been done at the expense of the pigeons already inside the building.
Consequently, it appears that those live pigeons trapped in the building are dying a slow death.
Looking from Main Street into the building numerous pigeon bodies can be seen, as well as live, barely moving birds.
Town Manager David Holt says he has received complaints and referred them to the CEO.
In addition to pigeons, there may be structural issues with the building.
The pigeon droppings can carry the risk of disease if exposed. These include histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis and psittacosis. However, these are risks primarily for anyone cleaning the droppings as opposed to the general public.
The USDA in Augusta says it can clean up and pigeon-proof with the owner’s permission if the town is willing to pay for the service.
Holt indicated he will look into that.
A call from Tabb just before press time heralded positive news for both the town and the pigeons.
“I spoke with the owner of the building, Sam Patel, and he told me coincidentally, he was planning on having someone in over the weekend to clean up the poop,” said Tabb.
Patel, a retailer in southern Maine, purchased the empty, partially renovated three-story brick building in 2012 from TD Bank. It was transferred to Jasmin LLC on Dec. 14, 2012. Since then, no action has been taken to reuse it.
In July 2013, Patel was notified the town would take court action because of broken windows in the building that had become a public hazard. Patel eventually fixed the windows, but some of them were broken again, prompting him to board many of them. It was believed that pigeons trying to escape were breaking the windows.
Tabb said he understands a nearby property manager has a key to the Odd Fellows Hall and he is reaching out to see if the building could be opened so the remaining live pigeons could be rescued.
In 2013 Maine Preservation listed the building as one of Maine’s 10 Most Endangered Historic Places List.
The Odd Fellows Hall in Norway once housed businesses and offices, as well as a ceremonial space for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge No. 16. The basement and first floor were built in 1894 after fire destroyed much of the downtown business district. The other floors were added in 1910. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.