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Fate of historic quarry returns to Rockland Council

By Stephen Betts | Jun 07, 2021
Photo by: Stephen Betts Fred Dodd is pictured in 2017 adjacent to the Rockland Engine Quarry off Old County Road. Dodd is one of three who bid on the property over the past two decades.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council may again dive into the controversy over the possible sale of a historic quarry.

Mayor Ed Glaser raised the issue at the Council's June 7 meeting.

He said Fred Dodd, a man who sought to buy the quarry on multiple occasions, contacted him recently and asked if the city would consider putting it back up for sale. Councilors expressed interest in doing it, but asked for historical background on previous sale attempts.

The City Council last considered selling the historic Engine Quarry in May 2018. The council voted 4-1 at that meeting to reject issuing a quitclaim deed to Jake Barbour for the 14-acre parcel that includes the water-filled former limestone quarry adjacent to Old County Road.

The city has solicited proposals for the land on multiple occasions since 2014, but has never followed through on a sale.

The city has owned the property since 1982, when Maine Drilling & Blasting Inc. failed to pay its property taxes. Maine Drilling acquired the land in 1981 from the Rockland-Rockport Lime Co. The Lime Company owned it since 1905.

A 2018 letter from the city's attorney, Mary Costigan, said the title to the land was not clear. She advised the city that when the it foreclosed on the property in 1982, it included the description of a different property owned by the lime company on Front Street.

Barbour told councilors in 2018 he believes he already had property rights to the quarry, which his mother acquired in 1996. Costigan's opinion to the city questioned Barbour's ownership claim to the land.

Barbour offered a 0.64-acre parcel he owns adjacent to the city landfill as well as a long, narrow 2-acre parcel off Rankin Street for a walking trail that is planned to stretch from the former MacDougal School property to the Bog.

Glaser said he was contacted recently by Dodd, who also bid on the Engine Quarry.

Dodd operates a business known as International Zoological Expeditions Inc. and has said he would stop illegal dumping, clean out the quarry and make it available for those who wish to study a different and unique self-contained ecosystem.

Dodd offered the city $20,000 for the property.

Dodd has a long history of restoring quarries.  He said he would restore the Engine Quarry and open it to the public for kayaking, hiking and other recreational purposes.

Dodd has a history of preserving lands. He purchased 17-acre Oak Island off North Haven in 1995 and created a walking trail, but otherwise has left it in the natural state as he found it.

While in the Midcoast in 2006 to visit Oak Island, Dodd saw an advertisement for property for sale on Mountain Road in Rockland. The land included a two-acre quarry. He visited the site and found a quarry littered with debris.

Dodd saw through the mess, however, and purchased the property. He has a small home on the site and cleaned up the quarry, which is now safe for swimming.

"I'm a biologist, so I have my own personal lab," he said back in 2017.

The Sherborn, Mass., man started International Zoological Expeditions after he finished graduate school in 1970. He has field stations in Belize where thousands of students visit to experience the tropical rain forest and tropical marine environment.

Also bidding on the property in the past has been Greg Dorr, whose brother Owen Dorr lives adjacent on the north side of the quarry. Greg Dorr offered to swap Engine Quarry for a lot he owned at 45 Rankin St.

Councilor Ben Dorr said June 7 that he would recuse himself from the issue since his father had an interest in the land.

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