BUCKSPORT, Maine — Councilors are expected Thursday to approve funds that will complete the transfer of property on Silver Lake from the Verso Paper mill to the town.
The 4.5-acre parcel includes about 1,500 feet of shorefront on the western section of the lake and is adjacent to a 100-acre parcel the town purchased from the mill in 2005. The town sold 12 acres of that larger parcel, but retained 88 acres as part of the boat launch property.
According to Town Manager Roger Raymond, the mill already has transferred the property to the town. The funds to be discussed at Thursday’s council meeting, totaling $5,800, will cover the legal costs involved in clearing the deed to the parcel.
Acquisition of the land would clear the way for the town to move ahead with improvements to the existing launch ramp on the town’s land. Raymond noted that the ramp is the only public boat launch area on the popular lake, but the only parking available has been along Silver Lake Road.
“We’ve been looking to make improvements there for some time,” Raymond said Wednesday. “But we could not do anything with the setbacks required in the land use ordinance.”
Consultants noted that if the town owned the 4.5-acre parcel, there would be room to expand the launch area.
The latest acquisition, located south of the existing ramp, will provide ample space to create off-road parking for as many as 17 vehicles with boat trailers, Raymond said. Parking will use only a small part of the 4.5 acres, he said.
The project also includes improvements to the launch ramp, such as paving, and added spaces for temporary parking while launching, and a float. A third segment of the project includes adding some parking north of the ramp and a separate launch area for canoes and kayaks.
There also are plans to add a picnic area north of the ramp and to connect to existing trails on the 88 acres the town owns. The town already has hired a forester to develop a management plan on that parcel and on land the town owns on the eastern shore of Silver Lake.
With the latest land acquisition, Raymond said, the town now owns about 1.5 miles of shorefront on the western side of the lake and about three-quarters of a mile of frontage on the eastern side of the lake.
“We now control a fairly significant portion of the waterfront on Silver Lake,” he said.
Raymond said the town is working with the Department of Conservation, which has indicated that it is interested in helping to fund the improvements at the Silver Lake boat launch. State funds for the project probably won’t be available until late this year, but Raymond said the town will move ahead with completing the plans and obtaining the necessary permits for the work.
Town highway crews will be used for some parts of the project, including clearing, Raymond said, and work could begin this fall depending on the weather.