Orono to seek applicants for business park

Posted Dec. 14, 2010, at 9:34 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — The town of Orono is ready to begin seeking applicants from planning and engineering firms that will pursue options for developing a possible business or professional business park off Kelley Road.

Last year, Orono was selected to receive a grant of $345,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration to create needed infrastructure for a business park in an area near Exit 191 off Interstate 95. The money was secured in the 2010 omnibus appropriations law thanks to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, but it was officially accepted Monday evening by the Orono Town Council.

“This gives us some resources to do some things, to find out what we need in terms of infrastructure.” Chairman Geoffrey Gordon said. “We’re trying to adopt a ready-to-serve posture as a town.”

Development of the parcel of land, located behind the Katahdin Area Council of Boy Scouts building, likely is still many years away, but acting Town Manager Maria Weinberger said it could be a good opportunity for the town.

“The town doesn’t want to develop the property, but everything we can do to get it ready and make it more attractive to private developers goes a long way,” she said.

Discussion about the piece of land in question dates back several years, Weinberger said, and at one time it even was proposed as a site for a hotel. The land originally was given to the area Boy Scouts council by the Cole family, but the Boy Scouts’ option on the property runs out in the next five years, which is where the town comes in. In order for a business or professional office park to be successful, however, Gordon said some private property owners would have to agree to rights of way.

“We need to identify any limitations or challenges to the site and to make it clear what a developer might be getting into,” he said. “Our town planner, Evan Richert, has been diligent in reaching out to private landowners about this.”

The location, with easy access to the interstate, certainly is perhaps the parcel’s biggest asset, Gordon said, and could give the town a variety of business and professional development options.

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