ST. GEORGE, Maine — The town said the possible purchase of a $1.1 million waterfront parcel adjacent to its town pier offers a great opportunity for the community.
One of the owners of a business that operates on that property, however, said he has concerns.
The Select Board voted Tuesday night to authorize the town to negotiate with the owner of the property for the possible purchase. The property, which includes two piers, a two-story garage and a few sheds, is assessed by the town for $1.1 million. The Board also approved spending up to $3,000 for an appraisal and related costs to determine a market value for the property.
Town Manager John Falla said Thursday that the town’s harbor committee has been reviewing the pros and cons of such a purchase for the past month and that the panel unanimously recommended that the Board pursue the acquisition.
He said seldom does a suitable piece of property adjacent to a town property become available. The town manager said the town would maintain waterfront access for commercial fishermen but also would allow for expansion of recreational boating access.
The property at 10 Cold Storage Road consists of nearly two-thirds of an acre. It is owned by a trust for the daughters of the late Konrad Ulbrich.
The property currently is leased by Mosquito Island Lobster Co., which is owned and operated by Capts. Dan Murdock, Victor Cole, and William Atwood. They are in their fourth year on the site providing lobstermen with bait, fuel and a place to sell their lobster.
Murdock said Thursday that the town’s interest in the property is making it difficult for the business owners to try to acquire the land. He said they have made offers but those have been turned down.
He said the town has assured him that the lobstermen would continue to have access to the parcel but he said that the business owners are making money as well by subleasing parts of the lot and that revenue would be lost under town ownership.
The town manager said there is no timetable for when the issue will be brought before voters. He said he expects that by October, the town will know whether negotiations will be successful. He said the town also is looking at possible grants to help with the purchase.
Maine Coast Heritage Trust is trying to buy the island for $650,000 and has a purchase-and-sales agreement. The town’s contribution will go toward matching funds for grants the trust is seeking to help pay for the purchase.
The land trust contends that the creation of an island park, easily accessible from the Tenants Harbor public landing, would provide a place for public hiking, camping and picnics.
The island has been maintained in trust by the Wentworth family, which has owned it since the 1940s.