Casco selectmen talk Tenney Hill

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

CASCO – Some people would not ask questions if offered $500,000. Take the money and run.

Some people might eye the gift money suspiciously, and make certain there were no strings attached.

During a Tuesday workshop, the Casco Board of Selectmen discussed the recent Department of Environmental Protection’s offer of a settlement to the town for the waste oil pollution on Tenney Hill.

Essentially, $1,000,000 will be collected from waste-oil disposal fees paid by companies into a kitty; and then, that money will be split 50-50 between Bangor and Casco. The Town of Casco – or another appropriate agency – will grant money to businesses, organizations or individuals pursuing projects that promote groundwater protection.

“If it seems ‘too good to be true,’ it probably is,” Selectman Ray Grant said.
Casco Town Manager Dave Morton said it was difficult to research how such settlements have panned out in other communities because “there aren’t a lot of cases of this being done.”
“The state is looking for the town to say, ‘Yes, we want up to $500,000 to protect groundwater,’ ” Morton said. “Right now, they are looking for conceptual of how the board would distribute money.”
Grant said he’d prefer to see the money used toward acquiring land for green space. He added there are plenty of other programs available to help with septic-system upgrades.
“We will keep an open mind about that: Whether it is an acquisition of land or the acquisition of open space rights. I think it would be good for the town to take an active role in deciding,” Morton said.
He said if a time came that Casco was required to put in a public water system, rather than tapping into Portland Water District’s supply, Casco could dig down for potable water.
“If we have protected our ground water, we may have an option for drinking water,” he said.
The Casco Open Space Committee recently sent a memo to Morton asking the board if it wanted to add any more restrictions to the Tenney Hill site.
As part of the DEP’s proposal, a lien would be put on the property deed – so if it ever was sold by the town, the new owner would be aware of limited use including not disturbing the soil. That agreement was reviewed by the Attorney General, and Casco has not signed it yet.
According to the memo, the open space committee “wanted to know if the board of selectmen will accept the $500,000,” Morton said.

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