SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) recently closed on the purchase of a parcel of land located at 392 Main Street and is working toward the purchase of a second parcel for the town’s expansion of Chris’s Pond. Since the mid-1990s, the Chris’s Pond property has been owned by the town and MCHT has supported it with a land conservation easement.
The Southwest Harbor Conservation Commission, working with MCHT, Island Housing Trust (IHT) and the town of Southwest Harbor, is looking to expand parking, upgrade a winter warming hut, provide seating areas and potentially, at a later date, create affordable workforce housing on the expanded site.
The recently purchased parcel (Letcher Lot), which abuts the existing pond property, is 0.85 of an acre.
“MCHT also has a second option to purchase another property at 20 Chris’s Lane,” said Misha Mytar, senior project manager with Maine Coast Heritage Trust who negotiated the purchase options with the owners of the two properties. The second property, a nearby 5-acre parcel (Dearden Lot), will be available under a purchase option until Dec. 31.
“These additional 5 acres go back up a hill behind the pond, so there’s all kinds of possibilities for how that could be used down the road,” said Conservation Commission Chairman Jim Geary. After both properties are purchased, he said the lots would be combined for the town.
“We aren’t asking the town to buy it. We are ultimately asking them to accept it as a gift,” Geary said.
“MCHT has a goal of raising $250,000 for acquisition of the parcels and the associated costs,” Mytar said, noting that $238,000 has been raised to date. Once the purchases are finalized, MCHT will donate the land to the town.
“It’s probably a year or two out before we know if there would be any land left over but if there is, it would be used for IHT to put in a house, or potentially a duplex,” said IHT Executive Director Marla O’Byrne, who believes there would only be enough remaining land for one building.
According to Geary, any land left over from IHT’s potential project would be resold.
There will be additional costs associated with redeveloping and expanding the property.
The Conservation Committee has been the caretaker for Chris’s Pond, along with the Charlotte Rhoades Butterfly Park, for decades. The town provides some funding for the Butterfly Park, but private funds are also raised to help with the overall costs.
Stakeholders and citizens interested in the project can email [email protected] to learn more.