Property offered to town

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — The owners of a quarter-acre lot across the street from the Manset town dock are offering the town the option to buy the property before they list it on the open market.

There is a house and small garage on the parcel that is in a trust managed by Margo Stanley. Town Manager Justin VanDongen presented the offer to selectmen during the Oct. 22 meeting. He the property is being offered to the town for the assessed value of $409,000.

“They reached out to us to see if it would be something we would be interested in,” he said. “Neither of the buildings is in particularly good condition … This would definitely change the discussion that we’re going to have around the planning of the Hook Lot.”

Two years ago the town voted in favor of purchasing the Hook property, which is adjacent to the Manset Town Dock parking lot, for $335,000. It had been leased by the town for more than two decades, but officials were concerned it might not be available at some point and made an offer to the owner for purchase.

One member of the public commented that the Hook property, which is similar in size to the parcel across the road, had been purchased for significantly less than the price offered for this parcel.

“The envelope [of what buildings] could be built on the Hook lot was smaller because of the setback from the ocean and the setback from the road,” Selectman Ryan Donahue said in response. “This [property] has buildable area to it, so therefore the residential use of it has a higher value.”

The town’s Harbor Committee has been at work on plans that include developing the parking areas of the Manset Town Dock to accommodate more vehicles, reconstructing areas of the waterfront for easier recreational access and a new structure for the harbormaster that would include public restrooms.

“Would it be feasible to put the harbormaster’s office on that property?,” asked Selectman Allen ‘Snap’ Willey during the discussion. “And, leave the parking lot [area] open instead of building something there.”

The property is served by public water and sewer.

“I’d say keep the conversation going,” Select Board Chair Lydia Goetze said about the property offer. “I think we might explore whether this is both recreational access to the harbor and advanced planning for sea level rise, because there’s money for both of those things.”

It was the first time the idea had been presented to the board.

“I don’t think they were in a hurry to sell it,” said VanDongen. “I explained that we need town approval before we commit to anything.”

Selectman Kristin Hutchins was the only member of the board to voice concern about the potential purchase. She would be hesitant to ask voters for more money, she said, “but I’m being persuaded by the group.”

“In Manset, we could use all that we can get,” said Willey. “It would be worth looking into, no doubt about it.”

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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