SOUTHWEST HARBOR — The Board of Selectmen here rejected an offer by Ken Korona, the owner of the post office parking lot, to spend up to $2,500 for soil testing as a step toward a purchase deal.
“This isn’t a formal offer to sell the property, it’s trying to get past what could be showstopper issues,” Korona told the board.
He added that soil testing was one of several criteria Town Manager Don Lagrange said Korona would have to meet as a seller.
Based on a conversation Korona had with engineer Greg Johnston of G.F. Johnston & Associates, “this would roughly be the cost of soils testing,” he said.
However, Lagrange’s valuation came in higher. In a memo he distributed at the April 24 selectmen’s meeting, he estimated that each test area would cost $500 and that, given the size of the area that might be contaminated, “the town should require a minimum of 20-30 test sites.”
Lagrange said that the obstacle is not so much the cost of testing as the costs of remediating if the soil is found to be contaminated.
He told the board that there’s no basis for discussing a purchase deal “until you know for certain, or unless you want to pay to know for certain,” that the property is clean.
Lagrange also said that, pursuant to the land use ordinance requirement for a 10-foot setback from property lines, the sidewalks along the building will not be included in the purchase, “which may cause issues with safety.”
If the purchase deal moves ahead, Korona also is required to convey a warranty deed to the town. But he said he received a quitclaim deed when he purchased the property and, if this were a strict prerequisite, there would be “no point in continuing the discussion any further, because we can’t offer [a warranty deed].”
Lagrange said he would consult with the town attorneys on this.
Selectman George Jellison thought the board didn’t need to pursue the post office parking lost at this time.
“I see a lot of money being bonded for other projects,” he said. He guessed that the deal would cost the town around $800,000, which he didn’t think voters would support.
But according to Selectman Lydia Goetze, 30 of the 40 people who answered a Polco question on this issue think the lot is an important parking resource in the center of town.
Chair Dan Norwood said the board would be willing to reconsider Korona’s offer if the cost for testing fell within “a feasible range” and if Korona “could prove to us that the property was safe.”