Harpswell signs deal for waterfront purchase, with conditions

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HARPSWELL — After several months of delays, the Board of Selectmen has agreed to purchase nearly 6,000 square feet of waterfront property.

The property will be acquired for nearly $14,000 less than the original asking price, but the deal will close only if contaminated soil is properly remedied.

Selectmen at their March 27 meeting unanimously agreed to these and other terms in a contract signed with Dain Allen, owner of the land next to the Lookout Point town landing on Middle Bay.

The purchase was authorized by voters last November, to help protect waterfront access.

But an initial report and a subsequent analysis of the soil last December found it was “impacted by volatile and semi-volatile petroleum constituents” from previous uses.

Deliberation over how to address the contamination delayed completion of the purchase three times, until selectmen and Allen reached an accord in executive session before meeting on the deal in public last week.

Under the amended contract, the town will accept a conveyance of the land from Allen “on or about” May 15 so it can apply to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for municipal grants to cover the cost of environmental remediation.

The town will then pay Allen $71,000 – less than his original asking price of $85,000 – but only if remediation is completed to the DEP’s satisfaction by Oct. 20.

If the remediation isn’t completed to DEP’s satisfaction by Nov. 1, ownership will revert to Allen, with no further liability for either party.

Town Attorney Paul Driscoll said the contamination wouldn’t be an issue if this were a private-party sale. “But because the public here is doing it,” he said, “it has to be cleaned up.”

After signing the amended contract with Allen, selectmen acknowledged the slow pace of completing the deal that had an original closing date of Dec. 31, 2013. But they said the town “has been very diligent in pursuing this.”

“I think the town has made solid decisions,” Selectman Elinor Multer said.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.