Otisfield receives first signed 99-year lease for Heniger Park

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OTISFIELD — The Board of Selectmen has received the first signed 99-year lease agreement for Heniger Park.

Lot No. 2,  leased by James McKenna of Arlington, Mass., was signed, notarized and returned to selectmen, assuring him he will have a new lease to use the lot on Pleasant Lake for the next 99 years, pending approval of an environmental review.

“It’s nice to know we have 1/37th back already,” Selectman Chairman Hal Ferguson said.

There are 37 lots in the park.

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One lot remains under town control and is expected to be put up for lease in the future.

The new agreements, which were developed during two years by a committee and selectmen, with input from the lease holders, must be signed and returned to the Town Office by April 30, 2015, and will be effective July 1, 2015.

Selectmen said the new leases will increase the tax base at Heniger Park from $10,000 to $98,000 annually, based on the current tax rate of $12 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The 100-acre parcel of mostly wooded land on Pleasant Lake was left to the town in 1943 by noted Broadway producer Jacob Heniger. His will stipulated that the Board of Selectmen decide what would be done with the real estate.

The 99-year lease will be countersigned by selectmen and become effective after the town confirms the leaseholder is not in default under the current lease and an environmental inspection determines there are no adverse environmental conditions on the lot.

The environmental conditions include that the septic system is of adequate size, is maintained and properly functioning and there are no adverse shoreland erosion conditions. Each leaseholder must contact the code enforcement office to schedule an inspection. If any conditions are identified, the leaseholder has until Sept. 30, 2015, to correct them.

If the deadline is missed, the leaseholder will no longer be eligible for the 99-year lease, selectmen said.

Those who do not accept the agreement will have leases extended to no longer than 2040, but those terms could change at any time under a new Board of Selectmen.

Leaseholders, many of whom have lived in their camps for decades, have said the new arrangement may tax them out of them camps.

At least two leaseholders have placed their camps on the market.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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