DEXTER, Maine — The state deeded a controversial plot of land on Route 23 to Dexter in late December.
With the recording of the deed next week, the town officially will own the picnic area and primitive boat launch on Big Lake Wassookeag.
“We’ll probably discuss at the January meeting what we’re going to do with that, whether we’re going to restrict swimming or whether we’ll open it up for boat launching,” Town Manager Dave Pearson said earlier this week.
The property has been a hot issue ever since 2005 when the state obtained a local permit to create a permanent boat launch at the location. It is the only place big boats can be launched for access to the large lake. There is a public boat launch on the little lake, but a culvert-type underpass on Route 23 to the larger part of the lake prohibits free passage for some boats.
The move toward a permanent launch was opposed by the Dexter Utilities District, whose public drinking water supply’s intake system is located about 700 feet away. Trustees worried that the added stress on the site and erosion could pose quality problems for the water supply.
The district filed suit against the state and the town to prevent the move, but later dropped it when the state withdrew its plans to improve the lot. The state then offered to deed the parcel, which includes a picnic area, to the town.
Pearson said this week that it will be up to the Town Council how the property is used in the future, but said the picnic area will remain in place.
The utility district, which had asked the state to deed the property to the district instead of the town, remains opposed to the use of the property as a launch for large boats. The district would have maintained it as a safety rest area and would have allowed its use for canoes, kayaks and winter recreation, Greg Brawn of the district said earlier.
Efforts were made by both the town and district to find another location on the larger lake for a permanent boat launch, but those efforts were unsuccessful.