PARIS — The town is one step closer to gaining access to the vacant Paris Utility District property at the bottom of Paris Hill and being able to use it for recreational purposes.

A public hearing was held Monday at the Paris Fire Station for PUD ratepayers and residents to weigh in on the issue.

A conservation easement has been drawn up to allow non-PUD use of the property. The town originally wanted the PUD to give back to the 7-acre property at 1 Paris Hill Road since the town owned it in the 1960s.

“We can’t sell anything but we can lease it,” PUD Trustee Ray Lussier said, noting it’s mandated by the Public Utilities Commission.

The 99-year easement would allow the town to use the property and for the PUD to access its two abandoned wells in an emergency and maintain its active wastewater pump station. The lease covers conservation of the watershed, forestland and the Little Androscoggin River and wetlands habitats, along with recreational purposes. The agreement allows for two portable toilets on the property, as long as they’re at least 100 feet away from bodies of water and well houses.

Recreational activities allowed include hiking, cross-country skiing, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, ATVing and boating. These would be governed by the town, which could also establish and maintain trails.

The vacant building could be used for kayak and canoe rentals, the Paris Parks and Recreation Department office and ice skating warming hut. Also suggested is creating picnic areas with barbecue pits.

Resident Peter Kilgore worried about tax dollars potentially being spent on the property and the logistics that need to be ironed out in running it as a recreational space.

“We’ve got no plans on how we’re going to maintain it, control it,” he said.

Selectman Vic Hodgkins said he’d like to see Parks and Recreation and Revitalization committee members come up with a plan for maintenance, operation hours, among other details, and bring it to the Board of Selectmen for review and approval.

Interim Town Manager Sawin Millett said each recreational activity in the easement must have an action plan.

Paris Revitalization Committee member Rick Little wants the town and its residents to have official access to the property.

“There’s no tax money being lost, no tax money being gained. … It’s a no-brainer,” he said. “It’s already being used. We want to clean it up a little bit and make it so it’s more user-friendly.”

Board of Selectmen Chairman Mike Risica asked Millett for liability clarification for the town.

“We would probably want to make our liability policy extend to this 7 acres in the easement,” Millett said. “All uses of that land would require posting that anyone using it would use it at their own risk.”

The PUD Board of Trustees approved the lease agreement with the town. PUD Manager Penny Lowe said after the hearing that the PUC has to sign off on the agreement.

No action was taken Monday night by selectmen.

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