Web exclusive, July 26, 2018
Blue Hill rejects Salt Pond property purchase
Fails special town meeting vote 97-86
Voters raise their chits to ‘call the question’ following about 30 minutes of discussion over a town purchase of a Salt Pond property. The proposed warrant article failed to pass.
by Anne Berleant
The upstairs auditorium of Town Hall was filled to capacity for a special town meeting July 25, with people finding seats on the steps to the stage, a couch and a piano bench., Up for vote: a proposed town purchase of a property on Salt Pond, nearly 3.5 acres in size, with about 900 feet of shoreline and a three-bedroom house. The measure failed to win approval, with 97 citizens voting against the measure and 86 in favor.
The meeting followed on the heels of a July 23 informational session that Selectman Chairman Jim Schatz described as contentious. But the thin margin separating the no and yes votes gave him reason for optimism.
“It was close,” he said directly afterwards. He noted that the earlier meeting showed that some citizens were concerned more over the process—holding a special town meeting over a referendum vote—or the $458,000 price tag, rather than the idea of the town purchasing shorefront property for public use.
“We’re going to continue the conversation,” Schatz said, whether on this specific property or a different one.
Several citizens spoke until, about 30 minutes in, a motion to call the question was resoundingly approved by a hand vote.
Issues raised included the seller’s stipulation that no motorcraft be allowed. For a “half a million…that’s not right,” Rick Bannister said. Dick Evans questioned the lack of a “detailed budget” for the development and management of the property. Alice Herrick thought the town should be focused on providing access for fishermen: “$400,000 would go a long way,” she noted.
An equal number of voices spoke in favor of creating public access, like East Blue Hill resident Lee Lehto. “There’s not nearly enough access to the water for people who don’t own shorefront property or a yacht,” she said. Another resident pointed to the importance of access to nature: “That’s an important reason why we’re in Blue Hill.”
The property, located at 270 Salt Pond Road, has been on the market, off and on, since 2012. The town has about $10,000 invested in the purchase contract, which will be returned to the town.
Editor’s note: The story was updated on July 27 to include new information on funds invested in the purchase contract.