CAMDEN — Developer Michael Mullins met with Town Manager Audra Caler and other officials Friday, Feb. 18, to work on a potential purchase-and-sales agreement for development of the former tannery property.

Caler said the town will send a draft of the proposed agreement to Mullins this week with the goal of putting a warrant article before voters in June. Mullins is proposing makers workshops for the site.

“However, we need to make sure it’s mutually acceptable to Michael and the Select Board,” Caler said. “That we’ve completed our due diligence, we’re protecting the interests of the town and we’re presenting an agreement that’s as advantageous as possible for the town.”

“The cleanup costs are certainly a challenge,” Caler acknowledged. “One of the least expensive cleanup alternatives is estimated to be approximately $300,000. We have $156,000 of EPA grant funds remaining, which needs to be spent by September 30th, so the timeframes are extremely challenging given all the unknowns.”

Mullins, doing business as Cranesport LLC, had come to the town before with a proposal for the tannery property. Mullins originally proposed workshop buildings for makers and entrepreneurs along with a permanent home for the Camden Farmers Market.

Later the concept of affordable housing was added to the plan, but that would have doubled the cost of the development. Town officials announced last April that the project would not move forward.

At the Jan. 18 Select Board meeting, Chair Robert Falciani said it was a strategic mistake to add housing to the Cranesport plan.

Select Board member Marc Ratner made a motion directing Caler and the town attorney, with the help of Falciani, to draft a purchase-and-sales agreement for the tannery based on Cranesport’s original proposal.

In January town officials talked about the cleanup costs. Caler said while $40,000 was the anticipated match for the grant to clean it up, costs had gone up to make that match $155,000.

This would be for the originally planned “cap and cover” on the site. Vice Chair Alison McKellar continued to raise concerns about solid waste from the former tannery on the river banks.

Falciani said at the time it may be possible for the town to find the $155,000 for the cleanup.

Caler noted that if the town does not do anything, eventually the EPA may take back the grant money available.

While housing continues to be a need in the area, there are some drawbacks to trying to do housing as the development at this site, according to town officials. For one thing, the highest standard for the environmental cleanup would be for residential housing and the next highest would be for public open space, such as a park, Caler said previously. She also said previously that Habitat for Humanity is still interested in a project at that site.

Related Headlines