2017-11-10 / Front Page

Deadline set for town hall deal

Selectmen ponder amount of land needed for Arundel’s proposed facility
By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — A plan to purchase a 48- acre parcel on Limerick Road in concert with the newly-formed Arundel Conservation Trust (ACT), approved by voters in June and the final peg in a town hall move several years in the making, now has what selectboard chairman Thomas Danylik calls “a drop-dead date.”

Consideration of the deal was the lone agenda item for the board’s Nov. 6 meeting. However, the session still lasted about an hour, Danylik said Tuesday morning, as selectmen continued to consider how much of the property they’d like to reserve for a new town hall and how much will go to the trust.

Danylik said the current thinking among board members is that they would like to retain 10 acres. But the real business of Monday’s meeting was signing a new purchase and sale agreement with property owners Steve and Margo Emerson.

According to Town Manager Keith Trefethen, the closing has been twice delayed by his inability to find an appraiser with time enough to set a value on the lot. The Emersons have since agreed to waive the original call for an appraisal. They also have not asked for more than the original $375,000 selling price agreed to by voters at the annual town meeting in June, even though the town’s contracted engineering firm, South Portland-based Sebego Technics, discovered in September that the lot is bigger than the 35 acres originally presumed.

Danylik said the new purchase and sale agreement sets a November 30 closing date — stressing the importance of hitting that mark by inserting the phrase “time is of the essence.”

“That is something they insisted on,” Danylik said. “So really, that is now sort of a drop-dead date for us.“

In June voters authorized spending up to $375,000 to acquire the lot, with $175,000 of that to be covered by ACT — a group founded by enthusiastic locals and organized under the auspices of the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust expressly for the purpose of helping the town buy the Emerson property and placing the balance of the land not used for a new 8,000-square-foot town hall and surrounding infrastructure into a permanent conservation easement.

Danylik said the final piece of the puzzle is a side deal ACT has going with Selectman Phil Labbe, who owns an abutting parcel of land. The trust is trying to arrange for an easement over Labbe’s land so that visitors town hall can access the Eastern Trail and the Kennebunk River.

“The only link up in the air is the land trust’s contingency that they secure that easement,” Danylik said. “Everything else is not contingent on that. If they don’t close, we don’t close.”

Labbe could not be reached for comment Tuesday. However, he has said in the past that he is not looking to be paid for the easement. ACT spokesman Joan Hall also could not be reached for comment Tuesday. However, trust board member Linda Zuke and Kennebunkport Conservation Trust Education Director Leia Lowery, an Arundel resident who sits as KCT’s liaison to the ACT board, both said they do not anticipate any issues with reaching a final agreement on easement language with Labbe before the end of the month.

Meanwhile, an exact line of demarcation still needs to be set between that part of the Emerson lot the town will use, and the portion to be conserved by ACT.

Originally, selectmen had spoken of retaining between 6 and 8 acres for their $200,000. However, that was before it was realized just how large the lot actually is, and before a soil test done by Sebago in May, which Trefethen says turned up “a lot of clay” which could impact drainage and septic system construction for the new town hall.

Selctmen met with ACT directors in executive session for about an hour at their Oct. 23 meeting. No decisions were made coming out of that meeting, Danylik said, but selectmen are leaning toward now asking for 10 acres.

“That still hasn’t been finally finally determined,” Danylik said “Keith [Trefethen] is working with a surveyor to set a line between the two properties.”

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

Return to top