Paperwork for ferry terminal to be signed

BAR HARBOR — The final step in the town’s acquisition of the Eden Street former ferry terminal property is the formal Purchase and Sale Agreement.

Last week the town council gave Town Manager Cornell Knight formal authorization to sign the agreement, buying the property from the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT).

MDOT bought the property from the Canadian crown corporation Marine Atlantic for $3.5 million in March 2017. The plan had been for the Maine Port Authority, a state government entity, to develop the property. But DOT officials said the town had not moved fast enough to adjust the zoning. Citing concern that public support for the project had waned, MDOT instead offered the town an option to buy it.

In May of 2017, the Town Council approved an exclusive purchase option agreement with MDOT. The price was $2.5 million, or $2 million if at the time of the exercise of the option, the town had “developed a formally approved viable business plan” and had “a developer and/or funding committed to the implementation of the business plan,” according to the language of the option agreement.

The option agreement was amended several times, including to add a $3.5 million “no strings attached” purchase price, matching the amount MDOT paid for the parcel.

Knight is set to sign the Purchase and Sale Agreement by Nov. 30.

As required by state law, the town will also enter into a submerged lands lease with the state. According to the Bureau of Parks and Lands, most of the land that is covered in water in Maine is publicly owned. A submerged lands lease allows individuals and municipalities to build and maintain piers over public submerged lands.

There was some discussion at last week’s council meeting about the submerged lands lease and whether it would limit the town’s plans for the property. Councilor Erin Cough was concerned that the current lease specifies that the submerged pylons can only be used for a ferry terminal. She said the town would need to negotiate new uses for the property.

Councilor Paul Paradis said the town will enter into a new submerged lands lease with the state, and it will be written for a specific purpose which can be amended later.

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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