Heart-shaped Maine island goes back on the market for $1.275 million

Harbor Island
Chris Pinchbeck | Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Harbor Island
Posted April 15, 2014, at 2:05 p.m.
Last modified April 15, 2014, at 4:57 p.m.

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BROOKSVILLE, Maine — A lot of people love the coast of Maine.

And though people have said money can’t buy love, it can buy a 22-acre symbol of love off the local village of Buck’s Harbor.

Harbor Island, a heart-shaped island that helps provide shelter to boats that come and go from nearby Eggemoggin Reach, is back on the market. For someone who loves Maine’s coastal islands — and who has $1,275,000 to spend — it can be theirs.

The island does come with some strings attached, however. Maine Coast Heritage Trust has placed some conservation easements on the property that any new owner will have to abide by.

The trust, which bought the island for $2.35 million in December 2012, had hoped to raise enough money to cover the full purchase price but was unable to do so, officials indicated Monday in a prepared statement. As a result, the trust has decided to resell the island but with certain deeded provisions that will restrict development and allow limited public access.

Last summer, the only house on the island was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. A development easement that has since been placed on the island by the trust will allow a new owner to build a new house of similar size on the island, but farther back from the shore where the prior home was located, according to Rich Knox, director of communications for MCHT.

The easement also will allow public access during daylight hours on part of the western side of the island, away from the home site.

Ciona Ulbrich, senior project manager for the trust, said in the statement that the arrangement should satisfy a variety of desires for the property.

“Our conversations with the [Brooksville] selectmen and people around town have made it clear that this outcome is appreciated by the community,” Ulbrich said. “It will balance continuation of the town’s property tax income potential with a conservation result that maintains the integrity of the island and provides permanent access for the public.”

The trust acquired the island more than a year ago from a pair of families who had owned it for 85 years. Franklin Kurt bought the island in 1927 to save its trees from being logged for pulp, according officials with the trust. His heirs and the Waller family, with whom the Kurts intermarried, had maintained ownership of the island through a family trust.

The island had been on the market for a couple of years and was listed for sale through the real estate firm LandVest for $3.85 million, or for $1.5 million more than the eventual 2012 sale price. Maine Coast Heritage Trust officials said at the time the families agreed to the reduced price because they supported the goal of protecting the island from development.

The primary motivation in conserving the island is for aesthetic reasons, land trust officials have said. The nearby village, as noted in the prior Landvest listing, “was immortalized by Robert McCloskey in his 1953 children’s book ‘One Morning in Maine.’” The island is a central landmark in the view from the properties in the village, including the Buck’s Harbor Marina and the Buck’s Harbor Yacht Club.

“This island is so center-stage to Buck’s Harbor that [development] would just change the whole character of the place,” Ulbrich said last year.

 

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