OTISFIELD – Selectmen will wait at least two more weeks before making a decision on whether to purchase land in Norway that had been set aside for a technology park.

Selectmen Mark Cyr and Tom Nurmi decided the matter after reviewing a letter from John Shattuck, executive director of the Growth Council of Oxford Hills, which officially notified the town of the tech park’s termination. The Growth Council announced in February that it was scrapping plans to build the park on Roberts Road overlooking Lake Pennesseewassee in Norway.

Selectman Hal Ferguson was not at the meeting.

Otisfield is one of six towns that invested in the failed park. The others are Norway, Paris, Oxford, Waterford and Harrison. Paris selectmen voted not to purchase the land in their last meeting, and there are no plans in Oxford or Waterford to pursue the matter.

The decision to buy the land must be made by four of the six towns. Or, Norway can choose to purchase the land on its own, since the property lies within the town’s borders. That issue is scheduled for a selectmen’s meeting tonight, and the matter will go to Norway’s annual town meeting if the selectmen choose to buy the land.

However, Otisfield had the most to gain from the park, and, with its failure, now has the most to lose. Otisfield would have received 70 percent of the park’s tax revenue if it had succeeded, but is now seeking to recoup as much of its $197,000 investment as possible.

If the towns don’t purchase the land, the Growth Council will sell it and return money to the towns proportionate to the amount they invested.

Selectmen opted to proceed with caution.

“I think what we should do is set up a meeting with John (Shattuck),” Nurmi said.

Nurmi wanted to wait until all the towns have decided on the matter before delivering Otisfield’s decision. Cyr proposed sending a letter to Shattuck asking for a 14-day option to buy the land as a town if the Growth Council sells the land at a low enough price. He also expressed concern over a section of Shattuck’s letter that seemed to suggest full compensation for Norway with only proportionate refunds for the other towns.

“It’s a moot point for us anyway,” Cyr said. He believes selectmen will not exercise their right to buy the land.

As snow fell outside, the meeting took place before an audience of empty chairs. Rick Micklon, who was scheduled to update selectmen on the actions of the Planning Board, did not appear. Neither did fire Chief Mike Hooker, who was to give an update on a recent fire that destroyed an Otisfield home.

Scott Hatch of the Pine Tree Trail Riders was the only member of the public to show up at the meeting. He briefed selectmen on all-terrain vehicle access routes he is trying to establish in the town.

“A lot of landowners are open to the idea,” said Hatch, who had the suggested routes plotted on topographical maps.

Hatch is trying to increase the amount of interconnecting trails as well as access points, and hopes they can be utilized as multiple use corridors for activities such as biking and cross-country skiing.

Hatch needs to determine what the state requires from selectmen before he proceeds on the issue.

Otisfield selectmen will next meet at 7 p.m. April 18 at the Otisfield Town Hall.


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