SOUTHWEST HARBOR— A deadline of March is before the town and an area organization that signed a purchase option for a .85-acre parcel near Chris’s Pond.
“The town doesn’t need to decide to acquire the land in February; it’s more of, do they want to keep working on it?” said Misha Mytar, senior project manager with Maine Coast Heritage Trust, who negotiated a purchase option with the owners of the property at 392 Main Street. “Let’s take care of it. Let’s enhance it. Let’s make the most of it.”
Earlier this month, Mytar was at Chris’s Pond, a popular community spot for ice skating, to answer questions about possibly expanding the property for parking and other recreational use. A representative of Island Housing Trust was also there during the two-hour timeframe to talk about the option of affordable housing on the property. About 20 people showed up to learn more.
“We had done a little bit of work to see if we can do both of these things,” said Mytar in a conversation with the Islander on Wednesday. “We’ll need some more time to get to a feasible plan and raise the resources.”
In 1995, a group of students from Pemetic Elementary School, called the Problem Solvers, advocated to save the small skating pond from becoming a parking lot. Voters at Town Meeting that year agreed to take on ownership of the property, with it being protected by a land conservation easement held by Maine Coast Heritage Trust. There is a 20-foot right of way between the Chris’s Pond property and the Main Street property that belongs to different neighboring property owner.
In August 2020, MCHT signed a purchase option for the Main Street property. That purchase option was for six months, according to Mytar, but can be renewed for another six months.
When this property was first presented to the board of selectmen last summer, Town Manager Justin VanDongen indicated the town could apply for grant money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to pay for work on the property. On a flyer available at the information session earlier this month, the acquisition price for the property is listed as $186, 250. Grant money through the LWCF is a matching fund grant and can be as much as $500,000.
There is currently a building on the property at 392 Main Street that is not occupied and may need to be razed. Although it shares a driveway with a neighboring property, there is about 100 feet of the property that runs along Main Street and could provide another access to the parcel.
Members of the town’s Conservation Commission are planning to make a presentation to the town’s Board of Selectmen in an upcoming meeting.
“We have an offer from the land owner and we need to decide,” said Mytar.