HOULTON, Maine — It has stood majestically in Riverfront Park, watching over the Meduxnekeag River and welcoming people to Houlton’s downtown for nearly three years.
Countless families and individuals have stopped to take their photos with it, creating Christmas cards from the images.
It is known only as “the moose.”
And sadly, its days in Houlton appear to be numbered.
Created by artist Glenn Hines of Hammond, the popular attraction has been on loan to the town since June 2009, but that could change unless a serious fundraising campaign is launched.
Hines said there is a popular misconception that the town purchased the sculpture or that it had been donated to the park.
“I leased the sculpture to the Riverfront Park Committee for a three-year period,” Hines said. “The expectation was that a campaign to raise money for it would happen.”
Hines said the sculpture came with a $75,000 price tag and the expectation was $25,000 would be raised each year to pay for it. Donating it to the town is not a viable option, he said, as he is still paying a bank loan for his costs in creating the sculpture.
A potential client has come forth who wants to buy the sculpture and relocate it to a different part of the state.
“I would love to see the moose stay there, though,” Hines said. “But at this point it would take me seeing some sort of organization to come forward and say they want to do some serious fundraising.”
Hines said he had spoken to Town Manager Doug Hazlett about the potential buyer for the sculpture. He added he won’t remove the moose before the conclusion of the lease agreement, which runs out at the end of June.
Hazlett said the Riverfront Park Committee held a raffle last fall to raise funds for the sculpture, collecting about $5,000.
“I have spoken to Glenn and he does have a buyer, so it will be leaving,” Hazlett said. “We are looking into the possibility of replacing it with something else, but nothing final yet.”
Hines added that while the town made it clear from the beginning that it could not use taxpayer dollars to purchase the moose, he was hoping some arrangement could be made.
“People identify that park with the moose,” he said. “I think the community is behind it, but I don’t think they understand how perilous it is.”