April 05, 2020

Bucksport set to buy downtown building Main Street location eyed for sewer unit

BUCKSPORT – After several months of negotiations, the town has reached an agreement to purchase the vacant Braun building on Main Street for $299,990.

The decision comes as no surprise since town councilors previously have tapped the location as the preferred site to locate a swirl concentrator, part of a $2.9 million project designed to address the town’s combined sewer overflow problem.

Town councilors last week authorized the town manager to enter into a purchase and sales agreement with owners Ivan and Judy Braun. The town also has secured a six-month option in which to purchase the property.

The option will give the town time to put the sewer project out to bid and to determine if there are enough funds available to construct the project, according to Town Manager Roger Raymond.

The town has estimated the project will cost about $2.9 million. The purchase price of the property is included in that estimate. The Rural Development agency has approved a funding package of $2,990,000 for the project that includes a $750,000 grant and a loan of $2,240,000.

Raymond said the plan now is to have the engineer complete the design of the project and then put the project out to bid next March and award the contract in April.

“As long as we have enough money, we would go ahead and purchase the property,” Raymond said.

The purchase of the Braun building is a key element in the sewage treatment project. The town plans to remove the building and to replace it with a smaller structure that would house a swirl concentrator, the process the town will use to replace the combined sewer overflows.

The swirl concentrator would be used during periods of high flow through the system, particularly in the spring and fall when infiltration of groundwater can mix with wastewater and activate combined sewer overflows that can discharge untreated water into the Penobscot River. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has required that the town eliminate those discharges.

The agreement also requires that the purchase price be supported by a licensed real estate appraiser.

Appraisals played a role in the negotiation and, in fact, caused a delay in the negotiations. Shortly after negotiations began, a new town assessment set the property’s value considerably lower than what it had been taxed in the past.

“That made it difficult to negotiate anything less than what it was assessed at,” Raymond said. “Negotiations began in June, and the July assessment was a lot lower. That made for a tough meeting.”

Generally, he said, the negotiations went very well and the agreed upon purchase price reflects a figure that is lower than the original assessment, but higher than the new town assessment.

The purchase and sale agreement contains several conditions, including that the Rural Development Agency, the funding agent for the project, approves the purchase.

The town also will pay the Brauns $11,964 at the time of signing, which includes $4,464 to cover their costs during the six-months of the purchase option and $7,500 for the option itself, which will be applied to the purchase price.

In a related matter, the town expects to award contracts later this week for planned improvements to the sewage treatment plant and for the replacement of up to 1,800 feet of old or damaged sewer lines that are allowing the inflow of groundwater into the sewer system.

Correction: A shorter version of this article ran in the Final edition.

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