CRANBERRY ISLES – Racing against a deadline, Cranberry Isles residents Tuesday authorized selectmen to proceed with efforts to buy waterfront property in Southwest Harbor for a future pier and parking facility for the island town. Such a property would give islanders their first-ever town pier on Mount Desert Island.
However, voters declined to give outright approval to a proposed $2.4 million deal, requiring instead a second vote to approve the final agreement and financing.
The Southwest Harbor Property owner has given the town only until Aug. 6 to formally agree to the purchase. Meeting that deadline is legally impossible because Maine law requires a 10-day notice for town meetings.
Jeffrey Crafts, an engineer and consultant for the town, said he would plea with the property owner, Pritam Singh, to give the town more time.
Many residents did not want to give final approval until town officials could answer all of their questions and tell them the impact on property taxes. The special town meeting vote to proceed with the effort to purchase the property was 87-10. However, another vote would be needed to complete the purchase.
Some residents were upset that they were given such a short amount of time to understand and approve such a big project.
“Whereas the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of proceeding to purchase this property, we trust Mr. Singh will continue to deal in good faith with the town as they move forward with purchasing the property,” Crafts said.
The Cranberry Isles, comprised of five islands off Mount Desert Island, has been struggling with parking and docking problems in Northeast Harbor for years, and as one selectman said Tuesday, the problem is only getting worse.