RUMFORD — The Board of Selectmen has approved a purchase-option agreement on 150 acres of town-owned land off Route 108 to allow Poland Spring to look into the feasibility of establishing its fourth bottling plant here.
Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs said, the option agreement for the first year is $25,000, which will eventually go toward the purchase price of $400,000.
“If they push the option out to the second year,” she said, “it’s an additional $20,000, whether they decide to go or not, and that isn’t involved in the purchase price.”
A special town meeting will be required to ratify the agreement, approved 4-0 by selectmen Sept. 6.
Briggs said the reason for the special town meeting, to be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the Rumford Falls Auditorium, is because “when citizens approved designating that area as a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district, they didn’t grant the authority to sell the land.”
The acreage to be studied is over two town-owned lots, with one of those being the vacant Puiia Business Park.
“What they’re looking at is not just the Puiia Business Park, but under the power lines as well as the other side of the power lines,” Briggs said. “We own on both sides of the power lines. But when they (select board) designated the subdivision (18 parcels) of the Puiia Business Park, it was only on this (Rt. 108) side of the power lines.”
Mark Dubois, a Poland Spring hydrogeologist and the company’s natural resource manager, said: “By no means are we making a decision, anything final. We’re just taking that next feasibility step to see if that would work out.”
He said the company will look into mapping of wetlands and conditions, foot access, driving access, geology studies and depth of rock, feasibility and many other factors.
“We’re still looking a possibilities in Fryeburg, Rumford and Lincoln, all three sites,” Dubois said Thursday.
If a bottling plant does become reality here, Dubois said the water would be piped underground to the plant.
Regarding the possible $400,000 purchase price down the line for the land, Briggs said: “(The purchase price ) is a good deal for the town based on the value of the land. It’s been there since 2002 with no activity on it.”
Meanwhile, work is nearing completion at Poland Spring’s loading station, located near the Rumford Point-Hanover town line.
Dubois said Thursday the facility, now 95 percent complete, will receive spring water delivered by pipeline from the Ellis spring site, which is 3 miles away. Production will begin in 2019.
Called the Poland Spring Rumford Community Fund, it is part of the 15-year agreement — signed in August 2017 between the Rumford Water District and Poland Spring Water Co. to draw up to 150 million gallons of water a year from two district wells.
In lieu of taxes. Nestlé Waters, which owns Poland Spring, would put $50,000 a year for the first four years into the fund for town projects, and $20,000 per year for 15 years into the fund.
Mark Dubois, a Poland Spring hydrogeologist and the company’s natural resource manager, points out a flow meter Thursday to Rumford Water Superintendent Brian Gagnon. This is one of two bore hole buildings from the Ellis spring site that will deliver water through more than 3 miles of pipeline to the loading station. Production will begin in 2019.
Mark Dubois, a Poland Spring hydrogeologist and the company’s natural resource manager, stands Thursday in front of Poland Spring’s loading station near the Rumford Point-Hanover town line.