ALFRED — Voters in a September 15 referendum will decide whether to purchase 33.6 acres on Route 202 known locally as “Brothers Beach,” beside Shaker Pond.

The property has been owned by the Brothers of Christian Instruction for many years. But the Brothers, as they are known, are looking to sell the land, said Alfred Selectman John Sylvester, and approached the town earlier this year. Selectmen agreed to put the issue to referendum.

It isn’t the first time the future of the beach has been contemplated. About a decade ago, the town approached the Brothers to see if they’d be interested, Sylvester said. It didn’t happen then, but could happen in September, if voters agree.

The purchase price has been set at $125,000, and a study committee has been formed to explore a number of issues, from the hours the public beach would be open, to what type of watercraft might be allowed there, as well as liability issues, warm weather or four-season usage, staffing and a host of other matters.

An informational meeting has been set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at Conant Chapel, adjacent to Town Hall on Saco Road. A public hearing is set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at Conant Chapel, and the referendum will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 25 at Conant Chapel. The study group meets Tuesdays at 6 p.m. at Town Hall ”“ meetings are public.

One member of the study group is Ron Berard, who lives on Shaker Pond.

“I’m good with it, the town should have a little recreation area to bring kids to play,” said Berard. He pointed out the sale and operation would impact taxes, but at this stage, the study committee doesn’t know by how much.

Selectman George Donovan said he personally doesn’t favor a boat launch there if the beach is purchased, preferring use be limited to putting canoes and kayaks in the water. Berard said he favors canoes and kayaks as well.

Sylvester said Maine Municipal Association has been consulted on the liability question and that it has been determined liability would come under the existing umbrella policy. If a building were to be constructed on the property at some point, it would likely change insurance costs, he said.

The purchase and sale agreement states that the matter must be decided by Oct. 9. The Brothers, according to Sylvester, plan to use the proceeds to build an addition to a building at their compound on Shaker Hill.

Donovan said if voters approve the purchase, the town is looking at establishing a 3-5 person committee to oversee the day-to-day operation of what would become a public beach.

Donovan didn’t say whether he favors the purchase, but put it this way:

“It will be the last opportunity we’ll have to purchase a piece of waterfront,” he said.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

        Comments are not available on this story.

        filed under: