SCARBOROUGH – In what was described as a foresighted move, the Scarborough Town Council has approved the purchase of a half-acre lot at 271 U.S. Route 1, which could be used for a new public safety building.

The town will buy the lot, which is adjacent to Memorial Park and three doors down from Town Hall, for $316,000, including closing costs. In 2011, Scarborough also bought the adjoining properties, at 265 and 267 U.S. Route 1.

During the Nov. 5 council meeting, Town Manager Tom Hall said buying the residential lot at 271 U.S. Route 1, “preserves our options for the future” and he thanked the council for its foresight in giving the go-ahead.

Like the properties purchased three years ago, the town is also offering the current landowner, Ralph Wilkins, a lease back provision for up to four years.

Before voting in favor of the land purchase, Councilor Jessica Holbrook said it was “a smart investment for the long term” and also said she liked that it would have no impact on the town budget.

That’s because Scarborough is using part of the $1.8 million it set aside in 2008 from the sale of municipally owned land to the Maine Veterans Home. With the purchase of this third lot, the town has now spent $866,000 of its public safety building capital improvement account.

Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina agreed with Holbrook and said the purchase of the lot at 271 U.S. Route 1, “makes perfect sense” adding that as a real estate professional it was smart for the town to invest in the land now, since the property is likely only to increase in value.

Councilor Bill Donovan said there were “compelling factors” in purchasing the land now. He agreed with Caterina that the price of the lot is likely to go up and also said that because the land abuts Memorial Park it has “a unique value to the town.”

He added, “We have to be willing to act when an opportunity like this becomes available. The town will benefit from getting it at this price now.”

Donovan also called the land purchase the “best deal possible” and “a wise use of (town) funds.”

In other action last week, the council also approved the sale of a 6.4-acre, town-owned lot on Bradford Lane to the Scarborough Land Trust and the Friends of the Scarborough Marsh.

The property abuts the marsh and the two conservation groups have offered to pay the town a total of $39,390 for the property, which was acquired for non-payment of taxes.

Although it will sell the land to the conservation groups, the town of Scarborough will also hold a conservation easement on the property, giving it the right to make improvements to allow public access.

In a memo to the council, the land on Bradford Lane was described as, “providing an exceptional recreation and marsh viewing site and providing valuable shrub habitat for wildlife.” It was also called, “a key upland parcel that provides views of and access to the marsh, (which is) adjacent to other parcels that might be available for preservation.”

In addition, during his report to the council, Hall said town staff has met with the group hoping to build a new ice arena on municipally-owned property in Oak Hill and said the current thinking is that the facility could go in across from the library, where the basketball courts are now located.

Hall said the staff would have a more definitive recommendation for the location of the $5.5 million ice rink at the Dec. 3 council meeting.

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