Kennebunkport Climate Initiative is looking to buy a 3.5-acre lot in the town-owned Village Parcel. Selectmen recently agreed to seek firmer figures on costs of providing a roadway and utilities to the lot – which would also provide utilities to three other parcels – after initial estimates came in about $1 million more than expected. Tammy Wells photo

KENNEBUNKPORT – Selectmen have agreed to seek more detailed engineering costs to construct a road and utilities to part of the so-called Village Parcel off North Street before recommending whether a 3.5-acre portion of it should be sold to the Kennebunkport Climate Initiative.

Once the figures are in, the board would decide whether to send the matter to a town-wide referendum, likely some time in 2022. Any sale must be decided by voters.

Kennebunkport Climate Initiative is proposing to buy lot D in the 87-acre Village Parcel as a location for its headquarters, constructing, town officials say, an 8,000-square-foot building for 12 to 15 offices, conference rooms and meeting space.

The town purchased the Village Parcel, which runs from North Street to School Street, for $10 million through a referendum vote in 2018, with a view to a variety of uses, including municipal services. Prior owners had planned a housing subdivision there.

Under a proposed purchase and sale agreement, Kennebunkport Climate Initiative would pay the town $2.3 million for the 3.5-acre parcel, with the town  constructing a road and providing utilities like a connection to water and sewer.

Preliminary estimates to provide utilities to the first four parcels, A, B, part of C and D, the lots closest to North Street, was $1,000 per linear foot – at 2,300 feet to the sewer connection that worked out to $2.3 million, Town Manager Laurie Smith told selectmen at a recent meeting. She pointed out that getting the roadway and utilities to parcel D – the lot Kennebunkport Climate Initiative wants to buy – also provides access to A, B and C.

An updated look at the infrastructure project, however, appears to peg the utility costs much higher, at $3.45 million – which includes costs of earthwork, two coats of pavement, granite curbing, storm water work, and more.

“It’s very different from the original costs we had in the analysis,” said Smith. She said some of the increase is thought to be due to higher costs of materials during the pandemic and because the estimates are conservative.

“A final design could change the cost,” said Smith.

Sheila Matthews-Bull, chair of the board of selectmen, asked Kennebunkport Climate Initiative’s take on the matter.

“We’re just anxious to continue this process with the town and we certainly understand the complexities of the project, ” said the climate initiative’s Executive Director, Jono Anzalone. “We certainly don’t want to do anything that puts the town at financial risk. We’re patient, we have time. This is our favorite site, and we can continue to wait on discussions.”

Anzalone said the board of directors of the nonprofit, whose mission is to empower young people on climate action, would reevaluate the situation in the spring.

In response to a resident’s questions about the proposal, selectman Mike Weston said it seemed to him like a good way to get the infrastructure into the first four lots.

“If we do that, we’ve got a much better chance of recovering some if not all of the investment we’ve made in the property,” said Weston, who also pointed out that the board is not prepared to spend additional taxpayer money on the parcel.

Selectmen voted unanimously to seek more specific engineering costs to deliver a road and utilities to the parcels.

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