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Otisfield forms committee to reassess Heniger Park
OTISFIELD — A nine-member committee has been formed to reassess Heniger Park in an effort to find a new use for the land, selectmen reported at their January 2 meeting.
The Heniger Park Reassessment Committee will have its first meeting tonight, January 10, at 7 p.m at the town office.
The committee is made up of all three selectmen, the town's administrative assistant and five additional townspeople from various parts of town, Selectman Rick Micklon said.
Selectmen previously discussed forming a committee representing townspeople to decide what to do with the town-owned land once private leases on the property expire. The 170-acre park is located on Jacob's Way, bordering Pleasant Lake.
"It's basically just woodland," Micklon said last Thursday, of a portion of the park.
"It's an area the town [thought] we were going to have some recreational ball fields," he explained, "but we didn't do that because it [the land] ended up being all ledge."
Instead, he said, since the town obtained ownership of the property, it created a system of hiking trails throughout Heniger Park, which, according to reports, covers about one and a third miles.
"The selectmen ... have the onus of deciding what to do," with the land on Pleasant Lake in the future, Micklon said.
"We thought it'd be better for the townspeople if we put together a committee, and then that committee would make some recommendations ... so [there would be] more of a consensus around town of what people thought would be a good use of that property."
Aside from the hiking trails, most of the land has been divided into lots and leased out for the long-term, Micklon said.
The first lease is set to expire in June 2015, said Board Chairman Hal Ferguson. The last is set to expire in 2035, Micklon added.
"Our goal, when those leases expire, is what are we going to do with them?" Micklon said last Thursday.
Ferguson reported at the January 2 meeting that some of the leases are "as lucrative as a dollar per year" and for a decent piece of land on the lake.
"That's a pretty good deal," Ferguson said. "You don't pay taxes or anything else; you pay a dollar per year for a lease.
"Obviously, something needs to be done."
According to Ferguson, because the land belongs to the town, it can't sold. It also must remain solely as recreational land, Micklon said.
"But we can do pretty much whatever we want with it," Ferguson said at the January 2 meeting.
According to Micklon, discussing Heniger Park's future use will be a "hot topic" at the next town meeting.
He said the town will hold public informational meetings at the community hall to get the townspeople "up to speed" on the issue.
"Our strategy is ... to collectively think of what all the options could be and then come up with our recommendations to present to the people of Otisfield," Micklon said.
"I can't say it will be [like the] the cell tower of that time, but it will be controversial," he said.
In other news, the board:
• Accepted a $1,053.89 proposal from Building Solutions to furnish a cover for over the garage exhaust fan in the town's fire station. The cover will be constructed out of three-quarter-inch plywood with a hinge door that can be opened with a rope pull as needed. The door will be sealed with weather stripping to minimize cold air infiltration, according to the proposal.
• Reported that the painting at the municipal garage has been completed and the building's locks have been re-keyed. They anticipate the generator will be delivered and installed in a couple weeks.
• Accepted two annual snow plow contracts from Richard Bean, Jr. and Glenn Pastore.