By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - A modified proposal for the purchase of town-owned shorefront on Lake Wassookeag will be discussed by the Town Council next month.
Stanley Russell of Dexter had asked to purchase the Frye Cove property earlier this fall so he could develop a marina with six slips. That proposal, however, upset local fishermen who use the popular fishing hole.
On Thursday, Russell told the council that he understood the local concerns and had adjusted his request to the purchase of a portion of the lot, the part that borders along Route 7 up to the corner of the Shore Road.
Like other board members who spoke Thursday, Councilor Fred Banks said he had received many calls from residents who were upset to think the town was considering the sale of the shorefront property. "This town should not divest itself of this property, this is not an issue that they want to see happen," he said.
But council member Douglas Pooler said he had no problem selling the lot to Russell. "I see a swamp that nobody has cared for and now is being treated like a gold mine," he said. The marina would make a nice development for the town, Pooler added.
Council member Marcia Delaware said the scaled-down request was more palatable, but still felt the property should be submitted to bid.
Legally the town can sell the property without going out to bid if the sale appears to be in the best interest of the town, Town Manager Robert Simpson told the council Thursday. He said town attorney Erik Stumpfel said that the Dexter code requires town property to be disposed of in a public bid; however, the code also provides a provision for the council to bypass the sealed-bid requirement and to negotiate the sale of land directly.
To bypass the bid process, the council could find that the development appears to be in the best interest of the town for a variety of reasons, including job creation, tax base enhancement and the services that will be provided to residents, according to Stumpfel.
To sell it, the council must waive the bid process and proceed with direct negotiations, he noted.
Because of the outcry in the community on the original proposal, the council agreed to discuss the matter further next month. Depending upon the outcome, the council could place the matter for public hearing in January, followed by a decision.
In the meantime, Russell said he would mark the property so residents could identify that portion of property he wants to buy.
After an executive session Thursday, the council voted to decline an opportunity to identify voluntarily a bargaining unit for town employees.
The Maine Chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is petitioning the Maine Labor Board on behalf of the town's municipal employees to establish a local bargaining unit.
It is expected that the Maine Labor Board would now set a date for a vote of those town employees eligible for inclusion.
The council also voted to lease a 70-foot-by-70-foot parcel behind the golf course to Vertical Resources Engineering on behalf of Unicel. The company plans to install a 160-foot communications tower.
At the end of the 25-year lease, the town will have received about $45,000 in revenue, as well as new valuation and enhanced cellular phone communication.
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