Salty proposition: Lawsuit to end with land purchase

THIS GOOGLE EARTH PHOTO shows where the property is located in relation to the Naples Town Sand Shed. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Naples) NW dd35 Naples buys home with salty well WHITE HOUSE THE TOWN OF NAPLES has made a legal agreement with the owners of this estate, property located at 1074 Roosevelt Trail. If approved at Special Town Meeting, the town will purchase the parcel for $188,000 using money from the Undesignated Fund Balance. This agreement is in lieu of paying for a new well and guaranteeing the water quality for a decade. (De Busk Photo) NW dd35 Naples buys land with salty well PUBLIC SAND SHED STUDIES WERE NEVER CONCLUSIVE as to whether or not the Naples Sand Shed was responsible for salt found in a nearby private drinking well. (De Busk Photo)

THIS GOOGLE EARTH PHOTO shows where the property is located in relation to the Naples Town Sand Shed. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Naples)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The solution has been a long time in the making.

The solution will be the potentially least expensive route for the town.

On Friday, the Town of Naples received news from the lawyer for the estate, which is located at 1074 Roosevelt Trail, near the Town Sand Shed.

Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak provided the latest update to the Naples Board of Selectmen on Monday. The most recent offer from the town to purchase the land for less than its actual valuation had been accepted by the estate owner, he said.

This offer to buy the parcel at the west end of the Causeway is less expensive for the town than drilling a new well and being responsible for the water quality for a decade, he said. That was one of the initial requests of the estate owner.

Most of the negotiations were done in executive session. And, it was no secret to many in the community that the lawsuit had been levied against the town.

Now, the details of the legal deal are out in the open — especially since the land purchase must be approved by voters at a special town meeting.

“The agreement will be for the town to pay $180,000 for the property plus closing costs. Insurance — P&K Sand and Gravel will pay $23,500 and the town’s insurance will pay $8,250 toward the property,” Paraschak said.

STUDIES WERE NEVER CONCLUSIVE as to whether or not the Naples Sand Shed was responsible for salt found in a nearby private drinking well. (De Busk Photo)

STUDIES WERE NEVER CONCLUSIVE as to whether or not the Naples Sand Shed was responsible for salt found in a nearby private drinking well. (De Busk Photo)

“A Special Town Meeting will be called and advertised for Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m., to purchase the property and provide funding from the town’s Undesignated Fund Balance,” he said. “The actual agreement is yet to be written up. The town’s offer was accepted on Friday. The closing has to be Oct. 15,” Paraschak said.

A quick summary of the property’s history was provided by Selectman Rick Paraschak. At one time, the home served as a bed and breakfast. When the homeowner Robert Begin died, the property fell into the hands of Karen Caouette, of Poland Spring. She tried to sell the land. However, any real estate opportunities came to a stop when professional engineers discovered the well’s water quality had been tainted by salt, he said. That is when attorneys stepped in to handle the issue.

Studies were never conclusive as to whether or not the Naples Sand Shed was responsible for salt found in a nearby private drinking well, Rick Paraschak said.

“It couldn’t be proven that it came from the sand/salt shed. That was built according to, and approved by DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) standards,” he said.

“The contractor thought it was from the spreading of salt on road,” he said.

“The insurance companies, knowing the state law, wanted to settle,” he said.

“It put us in a situation to provide a new well for the home and guarantee the water quality for 10 years. This board was uncomfortable with a 10-year guarantee. (The cost) got up into the $40,000 to $50,000 range to remedy,” Rick Paraschak said.

“We offered to buy the property. Our assessor had assessed it at $230,000,” he said.

“We offered $180,000. They finally accepted our offer,” Rick Paraschak said.

“We have no use for the land, but it abuts the three-acre parcel of the (Naples) Fire Station, and is below the assessed value,” he said.

“It could satisfy some future need,” he said.

THE TOWN OF NAPLES has made a legal agreement with the owners of this estate, property located at 1074 Roosevelt Trail. If approved at Special Town Meeting, the town will purchase the parcel for $188,000 using money from the Undesignated Fund Balance. This agreement is in lieu of paying for a new well and guaranteeing the water quality for a decade. (De Busk Photo)

THE TOWN OF NAPLES has made a legal agreement with the owners of this estate, property located at 1074 Roosevelt Trail. If approved at Special Town Meeting, the town will purchase the parcel for $188,000 using money from the Undesignated Fund Balance. This agreement is in lieu of paying for a new well and guaranteeing the water quality for a decade. (De Busk Photo)

According to the tax map, the land is valued at $88,180 and the buildings are valued at $139,460. Therefore, the total assessed value is $227,640.

The proposed real estate agreement would allow the town to get it for much less money than its value.

However, it is an expense that the town was not counting on. “We are looking for ways to pay for it,” Rick Paraschak said.

“We have tax-acquired properties all over town that we could put on the market,” he said. “We are in the process of going to Special Town Meeting.”

“We borrowed for the Causeway and other things. We are not in the borrowing mood. We want to take a breather from that,” he said.

The town manager echoed Selectman Paraschak’s statements that the purchase can be paid for with the existing budget, from the Undesignated Fund Balance. Also, how the property could be used is up for discussion, he said.

“There are no immediate plans for the property, but the town will be examining future use potentials as the property abuts the Naples Fire Station and the sand/salt shed,” Ephrem Paraschak said.

“The town may also look at leasing the property in the short term, but we will explore all options,” he said.

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