Casco has chance to buy lake access land

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — It is a real estate negotiation that was hard to keep a secret.

The Town of Casco has “signed a purchase and sale agreement” to buy 11 acres of land next to the Casco Fire Station and the parcel has waterfront access to Parker Pond, Casco Town Manager David Morton announced on Tuesday.

“It is contingent on Town Meeting,” Morton said. “The purchase price is $440,000.” He added that the land purchase is an expensive proposition during a year that the Town of Casco is floating a $2.5 million infrastructure bond to repair the Pleasant Lake Dam and complete reconstruction on Edwards Road and Johnson Hill Road plus a few other top-listed thoroughfares.

“This opportunity presented itself and we thought we would be amiss” not to look into it, Morton said. “An opportunity like this rarely comes to a town,” he said.

Several weeks ago, the board met in executive session to discuss the real estate deal that was being offered by landowner Lucy Jackson, Morton said.

The board fully supports the purchase, and has talked about many possibilities for the acreage, he said. “There are no immediate plans for development or use of the parcel,” he said.

The most concrete concept is creating “a waterfront park access for people to enjoy the lake,” Morton said.

He said the town beach would be low-key: No boat ramps, a gentle sloping beach for bathers, a few picnic tables, no parking — just the footpath that Jackson’s family has historically used for access.

Neither the town employees nor the public would use Parker Pond Shores Road as a way to get to the beach — if the land is purchased, Morton said.

“We have discussed community gardens and a walking path that connects to the Memorial School Ballfields, he said, adding those ideas are a result of brainstorming the many possibilities when the land sale came to the board’s attention.

Selectman Grant Plummer agreed.

“Any time an opportunity like this comes up, there is a lot of dreaming,” Plummer said.

Other than the rustic beach, no formal plans are attached to the land purchase, Morton said. However, Jackson had requested that a plaque be erected on the property in honor of her family.

Casco Finance Committee Chairman Sam Brown spoke on the subject.

“Are we able to use some of the money set aside in the Open Space Account for the acquisition,” Brown asked.

Morton answered that he had not yet discussed the use of those funds. “This is the first time we have been able to publically talk about it,” Morton said. “I know there has been chatter about it in the community” even though it has only been talked about in executive session, he said.

Brown advocated for using the Open Space funding that has been reserved since the town’s contribution toward the purchase of Hacker’s Hill by Loon Echo Land Trust.

“This is clearly open space. I think you would get more support on the part of the community. I would imagine the community would like the cost being one-third less with the use of the Open Space savings,” Brown said.

Following the meeting, Selectman Mary-Vienessa Fernandes said it was difficult to keep such exciting news a secret. Several times, she wanted to share the proposed land purchase with someone and had to remember to keep quiet about it.

It is such a great opportunity, but talking about it too soon might have jeopardized the negotiations with the land owner, she said.

She said she was thankful that the news was finally out in the open.

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