GRAND LAKE STREAM, Maine — This community of about 85 residents has received $650,000 to apply toward future housing and economic development projects to attract younger residents to the area and create jobs.
The grant will “hopefully make way for small businesses, which would employ some people in town,” said Grand Lake Stream Selectman Louis Cataldo.
Another goal is to get some young families to move into town, he said. Usually, when properties go up for sale, the buyers either want them for summer homes or retirement homes, he said.
“Our population is kind of aging,” Cataldo said. “A lot of people in town think that’s a problem.”
Cataldo stressed that the town has not made any firm plans yet on how to spend the money.
“We’re in the very early stages of planning,” he said, adding that the town’s approximately 85 residents will be asked to vote on whatever recommendations town officials come up with.
The grant, announced this month by CEI Capital Management, was made possible by the successful repayment of federal 2009 New Markets Tax Credit financing that allowed the Lyme Timber Co. to buy the 22,000-acre West Grand Lake Forest. A portion of the funds made in repayment were set aside to fund the grant, said Charlie Spies, CEO of CEI Capital Management.
As part of the deal, the Lyme Forest Fund, an investment fund sponsored by the Lyme Timber Co., donated a total of 132 acres of land to the town for the development of light industry and housing. The town also was able to buy another 50 acres at a discount for similar future development.
An option agreement between the Lyme Forest Fund and the Downeast Lakes Land Trust allowed for the purchase of working forest conservation easements in order to establish a community forest. The easements ensure public access to the recreation area, popular for hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, hiking, canoeing and other recreational activities, in perpetuity, thus sustaining jobs in the local outdoor recreation industry, according to a press release from CEI.
At the same time, it makes certain that the lands will continue to be sustainably managed for forest products, said Spies.