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Elementary school becomes boat showroom

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The former Rockwood Elementary School in Rockwood Maine will soon be used for storing boats. Courtesy The Boulos, Co.

The former Rockwood Elementary School in Rockwood Maine will soon be used for storing boats. Courtesy The Boulos, Co.

For Mark Gilbert Sr. and his son, Mark Gilbert Jr., owners of Moosehead Marina, purchasing a local elementary school was a positive thing for their company. The closed elementary school in Rockwood, Maine, will give them more indoor storage. In Maine, say the Gilberts, that is a big deal.

“We needed the room something fierce,” Gilbert, Jr., told Trade Only Today. “It was an opportunity staring us in the face and it’s going to supplement our heated storage.” The company will cut out one of the gymnasium walls and install an overhead door so boats can be easily moved in and out of the building. Another benefit, says Gilbert, is the 400-amp electrical service in the building.

When they previewed the closed-down Rockwood Elementary, it was full of school supplies, desks, papers, and books. Just about anything one might expect to find in a school was there.

The gym will provide indoor storage and a place for technicians to work on boats during the winter.

The gym will provide indoor storage and a place for technicians to work on boats during the winter.

“We saw that there was an opportunity for someone to gain from this,” said Gilbert, who co-owns the marina with his father. “I reached out to Forest Hills High School in Jackman and spoke to the principal and said, ‘Do you want to come down to see what you can get?’”

Gilbert continued, “The next day he came down with a 26-foot U-Haul and filled that van with supplies. Gilbert also had friends from the Cornville Regional Charter School come and fill their SUV with supplies they needed. The Greenville Recreational Department filled a car with sporting goods. Another person came and took the chalkboards for his grandchildren.

“It was benefit after benefit after benefit,” said Gilbert.

Moosehead Marina currently offers heated indoor storage during the winter, but Gilbert said he wouldn’t have a hard time filling the school’s 2,800-square-foot gymnasium. In addition to heated storage, it gives Moosehead Marina employees an indoor place to work and during the summer, it will be used as an indoor showroom.

Through a boat-stocking partnership with Moose Landing Marina and Yarmouth Boat Yard, both of which are owned by Steve Arnold, Moosehead Marina offers new boats from Starcraft, Sweetwater, Aqua Patio and San Pan pontoons, Regal, Ranger Tubs, Pursuit, Sea Fox, Cutwater and Eastern.

“If you can make a little bit of money and keep the guys paid all winter long, it’s a success,” said Gilbert. Much of the winter work will include repairs to upholstery, gelcoat and canvas. In addition to keeping the full-time crew busy, Gilbert says the marina could possibly add a few jobs. In a town of 298 year-round residents, two jobs could make a big difference.

Built in 1996, the school also has two large classrooms, a library and other rooms. There’s also 6.4 acres of land behind the building that will be leveled and have gates, fencing and security cameras as it transitions to the storage facility. Gilbert said they paid less than $150,000, which was brokered by The Boulos Group in Portland, Maine.

Gilbert and his dad are still looking at how they can use the other rooms in the school. “There are a bunch of things to look at to pay it forward into our town a little bit,” he said. As an example, the Gilberts met with a Maine-based ice cream company about possibly opening an ice-cream shop in the school.

“It’s always good to be able to supplement the business one way or the other,” said Gilbert. “It’s a good, re-invigorating thing for the area.”

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