The former international ferry terminal in Bar Harbor could be bought outright from the Department of Transportation without conditions regarding its use. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Terminal sale is offered



BAR HARBOR — The Maine Department of Transportation, which currently owns the former ferry terminal property on Eden Street, is giving the town the option to buy it for $3.5 million with no restrictions or further involvement from the state.

That’s more than the price contemplated in the option agreement signed in May, $2 million or $2.5 million depending on how much progress is made on plans for developing the property for maritime use.

The state purchased the property earlier this year for $3.5 million, DOT Deputy Commissioner Jonathan Nass wrote in an email to town officials last week. If it sells the property to the town for $1 or $1.5 million less than that, the DOT contribution must be for a long-term transportation use. If the DOT sells the property for the same amount it purchased it for, no such restriction is necessary.

“Mr. Nass is saying they understand this is a big deal for the town, and they’re still willing to partner with us,” Councilor Peter St. Germain said Tuesday.

The Town Council also is setting up an “interest group” process suggested by resident Anna Durand for many more public meetings on the topic before November, when the town needs to decide whether to purchase the property and under which terms.

Durand said the public’s desire for more information, input and discussion was clear at the July visioning session.

“This decision may carry the town in a direction for 50 years,” resident Liz Kate said at the visioning meeting. “We need to have visioning sessions weekly until November.”

Town Manager Cornell Knight, Durand, and the council’s Appointments Committee are set to propose appointments for a small committee to lead the interest group process. Each of the six to eight members would be chair of a specific interest group working on one facet of the ferry terminal question. Each group would meet every two weeks in September and October, with paid facilitators, and report back to work on a vision that has consensus from the larger group.

Knight hopes to have a specific proposal and appointments for the council to consider at their Aug. 15 meeting.

Funding for facilitators and any other costs, Knight said, would come from a ferry terminal line in the town’s cruise ship budget.

Resident Donna Karlson recommended a similar process to the one used by electric company Emera Maine in 2015, when Freeport consulting firm Power Engineers was engaged to lead a focused community process on where to locate a new electrical substation.

 

 

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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