State Park Road could offset Begin Estate
By Dawn De Busk
NAPLES — It is a cleared lot now, one that extends the open space around the Naples Fire Station.
But, for those who remember, there was a large stone home with a stone well that was set back from the road and offered some privacy with perennial landscaping. The driveway was paved and one passed a tall stone wall upon entering the property.
The Begin Estate was purchased by the town about four years ago as a way of settling a lawsuit regarding salt in the drinking well.
As is apparent from looking at the property now, the house was demolished and the lot was cleared.
While what was once there might be under fill and newly-sprouted weeds and grass, one Naples resident wanted to make sure the purchase wasn’t a buried subject.
In 2014, the voters approved $185,000 for the below-market-price purchase of the Begin Estate. The money was taken from the Undesignated Fund Balance.
What had been discussed by selectmen in late 2013, and in the months prior to the Naples Town Meeting in 2014, was that town-owned lots would be put on the market to recover some of the expenses of the land buy. So, real estate sales of town-owned land was the way that the elected public officials several years ago had hoped to recoup some of the money used for the Begin Estate purchase.
But, that process was not immediate. First, it required residents’ approval at town meeting to sell unused town land. Secondly, some of the lot had been deeded or gifted to the town so long ago and the title work was not in order.
During the Naples Board of Selectmen’s meetings this spring, the topic of the Begin Estate was discussed twice.
On May 22, during public participation Jim Turpin asked about the status of land sales aimed at recouping Begin Purchase funds. At the time, Turpin was running for a remaining 1-year seat on the Board of Selectmen. Since that time, Turpin won the seat after the ballots were counted from Naples’ election. He was sworn in at Town Meeting on June 7.
On May 22, Turpin took his public participation time as a resident. Turpin asked where the town stood on selling land for the purpose of offsetting the Begin Estate settlement that happened three years ago.
Chairman Robert “Bob” Caron II tried to answer the question, saying he was not sitting on the board the first year that was discussed.
“There was a large parcel of land on Lambs Mills [Road] and a large portion of that [estate purchase] cost was going to come from that sale,” Caron said.
“At the time, we were told we owned the property. It was going to be a subdivision. Six or seven lots would bring in huge cash for the town. That was a promise made. We talked. After it got approved, we found out legally the wording was incorrect,” Caron said.
Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak said, “The subdivision had been sold so many times …”
“To answer Jim’s questions, I don’t track it and compare it against the Begin property costs,” Paraschak said.
Selectman Dana Watson said, “We sold three pieces we had.”
Turpin continued his time at the microphone.
He said he was inquiring about the topic for a few reasons.
Because “A.) the general public should know, and B.) something needs to be put in print that reminds us this needs to happen,” Turpin said.
Caron reiterated that it was a legality that kept the town from selling the most potentially lucrative lots.
Paraschak said the realtor’s office that is handing the town land sale has gotten a few nibbles for the State Park Road land.
“We sold one property on Pearly Road for $10,000 or $15,000 last year. And the two on State Park Road, there is some interest in those,” he said, adding he would keep the board updated on whether or not the interest turns into a real estate negotiation.
Turpin said, “Quite frankly, it was the purchase of the Begin estate that got me interested in town business. I wanted to follow through with that.”