JAY — Selectmen voted unanimously Monday night to solicit bids for harvesting trees on town land behind the Jay Plaza. They also voted to hire forester Steve Gettle of Jay to mark the lot and the trees.

There are 34 acres of harvestable land behind Hannaford and other stores in the plaza.

Gettle was asked to walk the property and reported his findings to selectmen Monday.

“It is a lot that just needs to be thinned,” Gettle said.

The property is beyond the former railroad bed that is now part of the Whistle-Stop Trail from Farmington to Jay. Selectmen had discussed several years ago using the property as an industrial park but the lot was too wet and didn’t meet Maine Department of Environmental Protection guidelines.

The town has a 50-foot right of way over the railroad bed. The Andy Valley Riders Snowmobile Club also has a building on the property.

Gettle said in some places the land has about 50 cords per acre, which is high.

Mosquito Brook also goes through the property.

One side of the property would be easy to access and the other side would be harder, Gettle said.

He recommended the town just not go in and have the front half cut but also have the harder part thinned.

There is a lot of good ground, he said, with a lot of good wood. There is a lot of oak that shouldn’t be cut and should be left to continue to grow, he said.

“There is a little bit of everything,” he said.

He also recommended it be cut in the summer when it is drier.

Selectman Tim DeMillo asked if the lot was something the town wanted to keep or sell.

It would be worth a lot more if it was thinned out, Chairman Steve McCourt said.

The side closer to Hannaford and the plaza is good ground, Gettle said.

“We could sell it but not as an industrial park,” Town Manager Ruth Cushman said. Over half of the wood lot is good ground, she said.

A house could be built there, Gettle said.

He would not recommend having the wood skidded across the trail but trucking it from land on the other side of the trail would work, he said.

If the town planned to sell the property it could be cut harder and still look good, Gettle said.

If the town kept it, he would not recommend cutting No. 2 red saw-log, he would let it grow.

Cushman asked Vice Chairman Justin Merrill, a logger by trade, what he thought.

He said with the location of the trail and the snowmobile club building there, he would rather see the town keep the property.

It could turn into some kind of hub, Merrill said.

“If we put it out to bid when the contract is written it needs to be adhered to,” he said.

Cushman said she went to a natural gas meeting Monday afternoon and was given a large map of the area, which included the railroad bed. At first glance, she said, it looked like the metal part of the gas line would be going up the trail but she would need to study it more.

Jay, Livermore Falls, Wilton and Farmington are all trying to get the natural gas pipeline that stops at Verso Paper in Jay to be extended to serve the towns.

Gettle agreed that the town should keep the property. A lot of people would be happy to have a place like that, he said.

If it goes out to bid for harvesting there should be start and stop dates and they should be enforced, DeMillo said.

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