Manager shares info about proposed waterfront land buy

The property the Town of China is considering developing into an area for public lake access. (Photo courtesy of the China town office.)

by Mary Grow

China Town Manager Dennis Heath shared information about the proposed waterfront land purchase with TIF (Tax Increment Finance) Committee members at their May 6 meeting.

The local warrant for June 11 voting will include a request to appropriate $150,000, $125,000 from the lake access reserve fund and $25,000 from TIF funds, to buy about five acres between Lakeview Drive and the east shore of China Lake adjoining the Four Seasons Club property. The manager envisions a park with a swimming area and boat landing, well separated for safety, adjoining the Four Seasons beach.

Since selectmen approved the ballot question, Heath said, he has learned of a state program that would pay half the cost of acquiring the property. If China is eligible for state money, there would be no need to use TIF funds.

Using topographic maps, Heath made measurements of the slope between the road and lake. He figured the land descends 92 feet in the 824 feet from the road to the water.

The hill is tiered, he said, making room for two levels of parking. Heath intends to talk with Four Seasons Club President Tom Rumpf about sharing the club’s road to access the property, if voters approve the purchase.

If voters buy the land and TIF money is needed, Heath recommends expanding the TIF construction subcommittee that oversees the causeway project at the head of the lake, adding, for example, someone knowledgeable about possible effects on lake water quality.

TIF Committee Chairman Frank Soares said the committee has taken no position on the request for funds, awaiting voters’ action.

China selectmen have scheduled a public hearing on two local ballot questions, the land purchase and a request for engineering money to continue design work on an emergency services building or a community center, for 6:15 p.m. Monday. May 13.

TIF subcommittee member Tom Michaud reported briefly on the causeway project. Phase One, the new bridge, is almost done, he said, lacking only a final layer of paving and pedestrian guardrails on the bridge..

Michaud said two corrections are priorities; there is erosion around some of the rocks, and people have complained about the guardrail, which Michaud described as “unfriendly” because it makes it hard for fishermen to get near the water.

The second phase of the project involves shoreland work between the bridge and the boat landing. Currently, Michaud said, project engineers are seeking necessary permits. Committee member Amy Gartley led a discussion of the revolving loan program, intended to provide bridge loans to help small businesses in town start up or expand. H. David Cotta asked whether the town would be first or last to collect should there be multiple loans that were not repaid.

There was consensus the town, since it uses taxpayers’ money, should be at the head of the line. Heath and Gartley intend to seek advice from Town Attorney Amanda Meader and the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, which will manage the loans. Gartley hopes the loan program documents will be ready for TIF Committee approval at the next meeting, scheduled for Monday evening, June 3.


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