City holds off buying Bog land

Rockland again offers Engine Quarry for sale

By Stephen Betts | Apr 13, 2017
Photo by: Stephen Betts Rockland's Engine Quarry off Old County Road.

Rockland — The city is once again offering to sell a massive former limestone quarry.

The city council voted 4-0 at its April 12 meeting to seek proposals from potential buyers on how much they would pay for the 14-acre Engine Quarry and what they would do with it.

This is the third time the city has solicited bids for the quarry in the past several years. Each time, the council has not taken action.

There are at least two people interested this time in acquiring the quarry.

One person who wants to acquire the quarry is Frederick Dodd of Sherborn, Mass.

Dodd operates International Zoological Expeditions Inc. He said he wants to protect the quarry from the eminent degradation that it now faces.

Dodd bid $20,000 for the property last year. He said last month that he is still interested in acquiring the quarry.

He said he would stop the illegal dumping, clean out the quarry, and make it available for those who wish to study a different and unique self-contained ecosystem. Dodd restored one quarry in Rockland after purchasing a 2-acre property on Mountain Road in 2006. He also said he bought and preserved 17-acre Oak Island off North Haven.

John Root, Rockland's code enforcement officer, sent an email to councilors March 30, touting Dodd's success at the Mountain Road quarry.

"I cannot think of a better shepherd of this historic landmark than someone who has a true appreciation of all things natural," Root said, pointing out he was speaking on this matter as a private citizen and not as the city's code officer.

Jake Barbour of Jake Barbour Inc. sent a letter Feb. 6 to the city reiterating his desire to acquire the quarry located along the west side of Old County Road.

Barbour has offered to swap two parcels he owns for the Engine Quarry property. Barbour owns two lots adjacent to the city solid waste complex -- a 0.74-acre parcel assessed by the city for $3,800 and a 0.64-acre lot assessed at $4,500. The local contractor has also offered to give the city $5,000 in addition to the two lots.

At a September 2014 city council meeting, Barbour's mother Susan Barbour said she purchased mineral interests on the Engine Quarry property which dates back to the former Rockland-Rockport Lime Company. She questioned the city's right to sell the property.

The city acquired the Engine Quarry property in 1982 when Maine Drilling & Blasting Inc. failed to pay its property taxes. Maine Drilling had acquired the land in 1981 from the Rockland-Rockport Lime Company Inc.

Council puts hold on buying Bog land

The city council voted 3-1 at the April 12 meeting to postpone a vote on entering into a purchase and sales agreement for 174 acres in the Rockland Bog from Malcolm Von Saltza for $52,000.

Councilor Valli Geiger said $52,000 would go a long way toward making the former MacDougal School property a strong in-city park. She said the city has a lot of parks and that $52,000 is a lot for a park far from the center of town.

She said the city needs to slow down on the proposed purchase. Von Saltza came before the council a week earlier to offer the property to the city first.

Councilor Adam Ackor said the city should take this opportunity and enter into the purchase and sales agreement. He said $52,000 was an extraordinarily reasonable price for this amount of land. He said it would allow an expansion of nature trails and would be a boon for the community.

Von Saltza has owned the land since 1986. The property would include a 50-by-75-foot parking lot adjacent to Route 90 to allow people to park and hike the trails. The Oyster River runs along the property, which has trout in it, he told councilors April 3.

Councilor Ed Glaser also said he wants the city to acquire the land, calling it an important one. He asked to wait a month to allow the city time to answer some questions such as whether there could be alternate funding sources such as private fundraising.

Ackor voted against postponing approval of the agreement. He voiced concern about the city losing its opportunity to buy the land.

Von Saltza had pointed out he was advertising the land for sale in a woods industry trade magazine for $59,000. He said the city could earn some income from the property by selling off rights to some of the trees to be cut.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Sonja Sleeper | Apr 21, 2017 11:38

This is strange to me.  Why sell off community land because that is what this land is.  Taxpayers own it.  Why sell to someone who says they will create a park?  Town should create the park and do the clean up and retain ownership.  Buyer will probably apply for tax exempt status under open space law.  Town will be out property and tax revenue for the long term, values rise and taxes rise all for a short term gain of what $20K?  I wouldn't say it was a good idea.

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