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Harpswell applies for grant to clean up Allen parcel

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Harpswell applies for grant to clean up Allen parcel

HARPSWELL — The town is looking for state aid to fund an environmental clean-up of a 6,000-square-foot waterfront property it recently purchased on Lookout Point. 

The town completed its acquisition of the land from Dain Allen on May 20, and the purchase has been recorded in the registry of deeds, according to Town Administrator Kristi Eiane. 

In late March, the Board of Selectmen signed a contract with Allen to purchase the land for $71,500. 

Harpswell officials plan to use the property to expand public access to shorefront near an adjacent boat launch, but that plan could still be in jeopardy if petroleum-contaminated soil is not removed from the parcel's southwest portion by this fall. 

At the May 29 selectmen meeting, Eiane told board members she intended to apply for funding from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to cover the $3,000-$7,000 expected cost of the the clean-up.

In order to qualify for grant funding, however, the town must also participate in DEP’s Voluntary Response Action Program, which shields the town from DEP enforcement in exchange for voluntarily cleaning up the property. 

A DEP staffer suggested the town hire an environmental consultant to help it through the complicated VRAP application process, Eiane told selectmen.

Hiring Ransom Consulting, a Portland firm recommended by DEP, will cost the town an estimated $300, she said. In addition, there is a $500 fee for applying to the VRAP, and Harpswell will be responsible for covering DEP staff time in reviewing the town's application, she noted.

Selectmen unanimously approved hiring Ransom and moving forward with the DEP application and clean-up project.

According to the agreement signed with Allen, the town has until Oct. 20 to complete remediation to the DEP's satisfaction. If the clean-up isn't completed by Nov. 1, ownership will revert to Allen. 

Mitchell Field

In another unanimous vote, selectmen approved a $13,230 bid from Cundy's Harbor-based R.A. Webber and Sons to demolish an unused building at Mitchell Field.

In March, voters allocated $25,000 to tear down a 1,770-square-foot cinder block  structure known as the Maintenance Building. The building is one of several that remain near the shoreline at the former U.S. Navy fuel depot.

Contractors are expected to tear down and remove the roof and walls of the building but leave its concrete base intact, while removing any trip hazards.

At the meeting, Code Enforcement Officer William Wells said he doubted selectmen were going to end up with the flat, smooth slab they expected.

Not only is the floor "in bad shape," the building's lower frost walls will also likely remain after demolition, leaving a lip several inches tall around the base, Wells said.

Eiane suggested the terms of the agreement could be clarified with R.A. Webber before the company finalizes a contract with the town.

Peter L. McGuire can be reached at  781-3661 ext. 100 or pmcguire@theforecaster.net Follow him on Twitter @mcguiremidcoast.