Land reversion bill dies in Senate

TREMONT — A recent proposal by MDI Regional School System Superintendent Howard Colter for the creation of a common middle school on the island and the closure of two elementary schools ignores a major concern regarding the fate of the Tremont school should it close.

In August 1950, land was transferred to the town from Acadia National Park for the purpose of constructing a school. The deed includes a clause that, if the land were no longer used for “school purposes,” then the property would revert to the United States of America and Acadia National Park.

This so-called “reverter clause” was a sticking point in discussions surrounding the consolidation of the Tremont Consolidated School with the Pemetic Elementary School in neighboring Southwest Harbor.

Because the elimination of this encumbrance requires an act of Congress, Tremont officials sought introduction of a bill that would accomplish that goal. Park service officials had no objections.

That bill was introduced as H.R. 4527 into the U. S. House of Representatives by Rep. Michael Michaud. Rep. Chellie Pingree cosponsored the bill.

The House approved the bill in September 2014, and it was sent on to the Senate for approval there. But according to the website, which keeps tabs on the work of Congress, the bill died in the Senate. School officials were unaware.

“I find that to be disappointing,” Colter said Monday. “I find it a bit puzzling as well.”

Colter said he was surprised because, to his knowledge, there were no objections to eliminating the reverter clause, and the bill should have sailed through Congress to become law.

Colter said he was “curious” to know why the bill didn’t get through the Senate and how it could be revived.

Phone calls and emails to Sen. Susan Collins office seeking answers to these questions were not returned by press time.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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