CHINA: Follow-up on land sale story from last week

The property in question, from Google Streetview.

Lucas Adams, head of Adams Realty in China, has provided additional information to supplement the story on the People’s Park group in the Sept. 23 issue of The Town Line.

China selectmen agreed at their Aug. 30 meeting to sell about 39 acres of town-owned land on the east side of Lakeview Drive to Austin “Gerry” and Lynda Ogden. The Ogdens bid $80,000, and after negotiations with Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood agreed to $83,000.

The only other bid was from the People’s Park, a group headed by Lindsey Harwath hoping to acquire the land for a public park. Their offer was $10,000.

Adams confirmed Harwath’s report that she and the Ogdens met at his office on Sept. 15 and the Ogdens offered to sell the back (eastern) part of the property to the People’s Park group for $110,000.

The Ogdens also offered to put in a road and an electric power connection to the eastern area, at an estimated cost of $30,000, and to follow through at their expense if the cost estimate turned out to be low, Adams said.

And, he said, the Ogdens were willing to wait until next spring for payment, to give the People’s Park group time to collect donations.

His conclusion is that with those conditions, the $110,000 price is “a very fair offer.”

The Ogdens’ initial plan was to keep two of the lots designated in the former Candlewood subdivision, on the north side of the proposed, but unbuilt, access road. They later decided to keep a third lot, Adams said.

They offered to the People’s Park group two lots on the south side of the access road and all the property east of the former Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington railroad track that is now a recreational trail.

Adams said he had not “discouraged” anyone else from buying the land from the town. He had talked with one person who decided not to buy, he said. He told China selectmen on Aug. 30 that he had received only the two offers; he surmised interest was low because much of the parcel is wet.

Adams said Ogden has not been associated with Adams Realty since the 1980s.

“Gerry’s an investor,” who owns property all over the State of Maine, Adams said.

History of Candlewood Camps property

The about 39 acres the Town of China has just sold was part of the Candlewood Camps property owned for years by Lucas Adams’ grandparents, Albert and Muriel Adams.

After the Adamses retired, Wachusetts Properties acquired and subdivided the land. At the Sept. 8, 2015, planning board meeting, then Codes Officer Paul Mitnik reported that he thought the subdivision permit had expired, until he found a modification approved in June 2015 that extended its life.

China’s Subdivision Ordinance says that a subdivision plan approved by the planning board becomes “null and void” if “substantial construction” has not started within five years. When a plan expires, the planning board is to have a notice placed in the state Registry of Deeds,

When Wachusett Properties failed to sell subdivision lots, they offered the land to the Town of China. Voters accepted the gift at the polls on Nov. 8, 2016. That fall, town officials considered using the property for a new China Village fire station or holding it for later resale.

In March 2017, voters amended China’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program to add the Lakeview Drive lot to areas eligible for TIF-funded development projects.

In November 2018 they approved $5,000 from the TIF account for “concept drawings” for an emergency services building and community center on the lot. The emergency services section was intended to include a new China Village fire station; space for a police office and vehicle; and perhaps room for one of Delta Ambulance’s vehicles (since China Rescue cannot provide transport).

In June 2019, however, voters refused to take $25,000 from unexpended fund balance (also called surplus) to develop engineering plans and cost estimates for the building. The vote, as recorded in the June 13, 2019, issue of The Town Line, was not even close: 72 “yes” votes to 332 “no” votes.

Selectmen therefore asked at the June 8, 2021, town meeting for authorization to sell the land, with proceeds “to be put into an assigned fund to reduce the mil rate in the fiscal year following the sale.” Town meeting voters approved.


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