Walter Butler stands on the edge of a 22-acre parcel he donated to the town of Standish in 2014 to build a soccer complex. Nine years later, Butler is being allowed to put in a bid to buy back the land, for a minimum of $300,000. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

A Standish town councilor who donated land for soccer fields that were never built can try to buy it back, but the town manager is now recommending the town hold onto the land.

Walter Butler filed a complaint against the town, seeking either that the land be returned to him or that he get a chance to bid on it. But the complaint was dismissed Monday following a meeting with a Cumberland County Superior Court judge where an attorney for the town clarified that Butler can bid on the property because it is unlikely the winning bid will be awarded before his term ends in June.

As a result, Butler agreed to drop the complaint and not sue the town over the issue again. He says he plans to submit a bid before the Thursday deadline in hopes that he can reacquire the land on Moody Road to build a soccer field.

“I now have the opportunity to compete with any who may be bidding, to buy back land I have previously purchased and donated in support of having soccer fields for Standish,” Butler said Tuesday. “It has been in limbo for these past nine years and the costs have increased substantially over that time period. Add to that the cost to repurchase the land in order to even begin makes it that much harder to achieve the goal today.”

The minimum bid is set at $300,000. Butler bought the property in 2014 as part of a 50-acre parcel for $350,000.

But after bids close on Thursday, Town Manager Tashia Pinkham said she will recommend that the Town Council not award a bid for the Moody Road land, or a separate parcel on Northeast Road that also is being sold via competitive bid. The town has reserved the right to reject any and all bids, and it’s ultimately up to them to decide which bid – if any – to accept.


The Town Council made the decision to sell the land late in 2021, before Pinkham was hired as the town manager.

“I feel like keeping the land is best for everyone,” Pinkham said in an interview, noting contamination on the donated land should be further assessed and that the Northeast Road property could be used in the future for a new fire station or something similar.

Butler donated 22 acres to the town in 2014, shortly after he bought the 50-acre parcel, which included a rundown industrial building. As a former coach and soccer parent, he said he was motivated to make the donation because he wanted more field space for the town to host soccer tournaments.

At that time, town officials started planning for a six-field complex, but those plans never moved forward. Since then, the Town Council, town manager and recreation director all have changed and there are no current plans to build the fields.

In the complaint filed last week, Butler claimed his donation should be considered a conditional gift that should be returned if not used for its intended purpose. However, no deed restrictions were put in place when he donated the land that require the town to use it for a specific purpose.

The town did not dispute that there was discussion at the time about creating a large soccer field complex, but there was no express condition placed on Butler’s gift, town attorney Sally Daggett said in a response to Butler’s complaint.

“Although the town may have had ‘no objection to the land being used for a soccer field,’ this is a far cry from a conclusion that this conveyance of the property was a conditional gift,” the response said.

The town also opposed Butler’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the competitive bid process, saying Butler failed to demonstrate he would suffer irreparable harm and that he could have appealed the Town Council’s order to sell the property but did not. Instead, Daggett wrote, Butler waited 18 months to file declaratory judgment action.

Daggett also noted that the “current ’emergency’ is entirely self-created” by Butler. He had been aware of the legal issues since at least December, when he received a letter from the town attorney about a proposal to rescind the Town Council order authorizing the sale and then reconvey the property to Butler, she said. 

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