CHINA: People’s Park group dealt major disappointment

The property in question, from Google Streetview.

by Mary Grow

[There has been an update to this story: CHINA: Follow-up on land sale story from last week]

Lindsey Harwath, President of the The People’s Park group hoping to create a public park off Lakeview Drive on land that town officials just sold, has reported a major disappointment.

At the Aug. 30 selectmen’s meeting, selectmen reviewed two bids for the approximately 40-acre parcel with their chosen realtor, Lucas Adams, of Adams Realty, in South China. One bid was for $10,000, from The People’s Park. The other was for $80,000 from a then-unnamed party, now identified as former China resident Austin “Gerry” Ogden.

Adams had valued the land at between $80,000 and $100,000. Selectmen had split the difference and set $90,000 as their preferred price.

They authorized Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood to negotiate and contract with the higher bidder. Adams told selectmen that person’s plan was to keep two lots and offer the remainder of the land to The People’s Park, at a “reasonable” price.

Hapgood reported at the Sept. 13 selectmen’s meeting that she and Ogden had agreed on $83,000. Closing was postponed to sometime in October, she said, because the title company is so busy.

Harwath said before town selectmen acted, Adams had discouraged another interested resident from making a formal offer and had told Harwath that if Ogden became the landowner, The People’s Park “would be in a better financial position than if we tried to buy the lot from the town.”

On Sept. 15, Harwath met with Adams, Ogden and Ogden’s wife Lynda at Adams’ office. Fellow People’s Park board member Jeanne Marquis joined the meeting late.

At that meeting, Harwath said, Ogden said he intended to keep three lots from the property. He offered to sell the remaining acreage to The People’s Park for $110,000. Or, Harwath said, he would sell the group the entire almost-40 acres for $160,000.

Ogden worked with Lawrence “Larry” Adams, the family-owned real estate firm’s previous head, when the Ogdens lived in China.


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