Milo residents OK purchase of property hit by ’08 arson

Posted Jan. 06, 2010, at 12:04 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:06 p.m.

MILO, Maine —The town soon will own the entire downtown property that was left vacant after a September 2008 arson that destroyed five buildings and damaged another.

About 90 residents, during a special town meeting Tuesday, voted overwhelmingly to buy a parcel owned by George Saviolis at a price not to exceed $10,000 and a parcel owned by John and Barbara Crossman at a price not to exceed $48,200.

Last month, a similar vote on the latter property was rejected by residents. Because town officials learned later that some residents were confused about the funding for the project, they scheduled the second town meeting.

Since that meeting, town officials also negotiated a purchase price with Saviolis for the remaining parcel. With their purchase, the town will own the entire downtown vacant section.

The funding for the Saviolis parcel will come from a Community Development Block Grant, and the funding for the Crossman property is included in a $500,000 federal rural development grant. No local property taxes will be needed for the purchase, according to Town Manager Jeff Gahagan.

The Saviolis lot is valued at $6.76 per square foot for about $10,000, according to Gahagan. Using that same value with the 9,700 square feet the Crossmans own, it would equal about $65,000, he said.

“If the town continues to hold the [Crossman] property, then there’s no payback involved,” Gahagan said.

If the town decides to sell the Crossman property later for redevelopment, the town must repay the grant money. Should the town sell the property for less than the purchase price, the town would be required to pay back the selling price to the federal government. If the town sold the Crossman property for more than it was val-ued at its purchase, the town would have to pay back whatever it was sold for, according to Thomas Kittredge of the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council. “The town can neither profit nor lose from the change of the property value,” he said.

There would be no payback for the sale of the Saviolis lot, which is funded by a state Community Development Block Grant, Gahagan said. As a condition of the purchase of the Saviolis property, the town must not allow the construction and-or operation of any competing restaurant in the downtown area that burned so long as the town owns the property.

The purpose of the federal rural development grant is for the purchase of the Crossman property, and for marketing and development of the downtown, according to Gahagan. The long-term goal is to construct a building on the property and either lease or sell it for either profit or nonprofit organizations to create jobs. Such an action would require another town meeting vote, according to Gahagan.

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