ROCKLAND, Maine — Two parties have expressed interest in either leasing or buying the former city-owned Sea Scout headquarters located adjacent to the waterfront Snow Marine Park.
But the city’s harbor management commission has recommended to the City Council that the property not be sold because of its potential value. The receipt of the recommendation was on the City Council’s Monday night agenda. The council took no action at the Monday night meeting.
The 880-square-foot former Sea Scout building was moved to Snow Marine Park in April 1983 from its location near where Ferry Terminal Park is now located. The city acquired the building 20 years earlier from a former lumber company.
Capt. James Sharp and his wife, Meg Sharp, have asked to purchase the building and the land it sits on as an extension of their Sail, Power & Steam Museum that abuts the building. The couple want to use it as a center to teach youth about sailing.
Mark DiGirolamo, owner of Breakwater Kayak Co. LLC, also has contacted the city about leasing that building for his business.
The harbor commission, however, urged the council not to sell the property. The commission met Dec. 18 to discuss the long-term vision for the property.
The commission concluded that even if the building was not there, the property it sits on is valuable and could be used for parking. The city is working to extend the Harbor Trail to Snow Marine Park and that could increase use of the park. The building could be used to support the park’s operations.
The property also could be used for future construction, the commission stated, since there is little undeveloped land.
The commission pointed out that when the city does sell land, it often does so to generate tax revenues. The sale to a nonprofit corporation would keep it off the tax roll.
“The Sharps want to use the building as a meeting place for young people to drop their books and bags, grab their sails and life jackets, meet with instructors, plan the day’s activities, and head out into the harbor at the museum’s marina,” the commission stated.
The Sharps sent a letter to the city on Sept. 3 asking to lease it for $1,500 a year, and followed it up on Nov. 25 with a letter expressing interest in purchasing it for $12,000. In addition, the Sharps would donate $12,000 for completion of the Harbor Trail.
The couple also would donate an anchor and granite foundation to mark the end of the trail.
The Sharps would also build a restroom at the building with access for the public.
“We will also upgrade the building so it will be more in keeping with the surrounding architecture,” they stated.
The Sharps leased the building for a few years starting in 2008 as a food shack but did not seek to renew it a few years ago.
DiGirolamo has operated the kayak guided tours for the past 14 years at different locations on Rockland Harbor.
He said Snow Marine Park is a great place for starting kayak tours because the land and that part of the harbor is less congested than the Harbor Park area of the city.
He is asking the city approval to lease the building and the property it sits on.
“Eventually I would like to include paddleboard tours/rentals, bicycle rentals, kayak rentals, a limited kayak and accessories retail operation, and ice cream/sandwich shop,” he stated.