BIDDEFORD — On Tuesday, the city council will consider whether to purchase land on Elm Street.

The land could be used for a new business park, said Mayor Alan Casavant.

The cost of the two properties, currently owned by Richard Pate, is $700,000, with $100,000 due at the closing, which is scheduled for Dec. 23. The remainder would be paid over a period of seven years at a 3 percent interest rate.

According to the city’s assessment records, 511-515 Elm St. is appraised at $462,500, and 516 Elm St. is appraised at $49,500.

The purchase is contingent upon the successful completion of a Phase 1 Environmental Site assessment of the property and council authorization.

Interest in the land “goes back to when General (Wallace) Nutting was mayor,” said Casavant.

Nutting was Biddeford’s mayor from 2003-07.

“The city has always looked at it as desirable,” said Casavant.

“Two years ago I brought it up,” he said, “but the city decided not be involved for budgetary and other reasons.”

More recently, said Casavant, Pate approached him. He said Pate has had offers to purchase the land but had been holding out, hoping the city would purchase it.

“Mr. Pate tried to work with the city to make it as easy as possible to purchase,” said the mayor.

When purchasing the property was first considered, it was to use it for ballfields. Recreational Director Carl Walsh has said repeatedly that there aren’t enough fields for the city’s needs.

But Casavant said he doesn’t think the land will be used for recreation because there isn’t enough funding to take care of additional fields.

The council has been discussing the purchase in executive session in recent meetings.

The property also provides access to some city-owned parcels.

In addition, there is some wooded area on the property, which Casavant said he would like to see remain in its natural state.

Casavant said the council hasn’t spoken about plans for the land yet but he thinks it would be good to use some of the land for commercial purposes that would fit in with the neighborhood.

Using the land for a business park makes the most sense, he said; because the city needs such area to proactively attract businesses, and jobs, to the city.

“The purchase and redevelopment of that land will serve the city,” said Casavant. “I don’t see it as a purchase per se, I see it as an investment.”

— Staff Writer Dina Mendros can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 324 or [email protected]

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