Casco residents to consider buying 11 acres

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — From the viewpoint of local selectmen who are also Casco residents and taxpayers, the real estate offer of 11 acres adjacent to the Casco Fire Station is too good of a deal to pass up.

Once a parcel of land is sold to someone else, the opportunity to gain that acreage and control how the land is developed is gone. So the thinking goes. That was the rationale behind the 2015 voter-approved purchase of land behind the Songo Elementary School by School Administrative District (SAD) 61.

What makes Casco’s proposed property purchase particularly exciting is that it sits next to the land where construction is occurring for the future town office; and, here is the kicker, it has beach access to Parker Pond.

The land purchase will be considered at the Casco Town Meeting, which takes place Wednesday, 7 p.m., at the Casco Fire Station.

Warrant Article 28 — to purchase 11 acres for $440,000 — is a money borrowing article that might be news to some residents.

The proposed land buy was first brought up at a Casco board of Selectmen meeting on April 26.

Toward the end of the meeting on April 26, the board announced that it had been negotiating with the landowner to buy an 11-acre parcel that abuts the land the town already owns. At the time, the Casco selectmen agreed to put forward the item as a warrant article for this year’s Town Meeting.

The parcel for sale is “approximately 11 acres with approximately 95 to 100 feet of beachfront,” according to Casco Town Manager Dave Morton.

A few of the particulars of the real estate negotiations include: the homes now standing on the property near Meadow Road would be torn down. The property owner, Lucy Jackson, asked that a memorial plaque be put up in remembrance of her father, Bryant Berry, who was a war veteran and longtime community member.

The deeded beach rights are accessible via a foot path, and the majority of the property is undeveloped green space — either open field or forested.

As of yet, there are no plans for the property except for using the waterfront section as a public beach. Residents at Town Meeting will be voting on the purchase of the property. Still, possible uses could be discussed when Warrant Article 28 is on the floor.

The purchase price is $440,000. By taking out a 10-year bond, there would be a total estimated debt service of $489,192, according to a copy of the Casco Town Meeting Warrant Articles.

For the taxpayers, the bond would increase the yearly tax rate by 7 cents, or $10.50 per $150,000 property valuation.

For the taxpayers, there would be an additional public beach in their town and more acreage around their fire station and new town office.

Warrant Article 28 is being recommended by both the selectmen and the Casco Finance Committee.

Residents have asked if money from the Land Acquisition Fund be used if the land purchased is approved at the Town Meeting.

According to Casco Town Manager Dave Morton, “Possibly, yes, it would require Town Meeting to vote to repurpose the funds.”

There is “approximately $120,000” remaining in that fund, according to Morton.

Using money from the Land Acquisition Fund, also referred to as the Open Space Account, would not lock in the future of the parcel, Morton said. But, residents would have to vote to appropriate those funds for the purchase of the land next to the town’s lot, he said.

Please follow and like us: