Land deal looks good in Gorham

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A significant land acquisition in Gorham sought by the Shaw Brothers Family Foundation appears to be moving closer toward becoming reality.

The nonprofit foundation hopes to buy 258 acres on lower Main Street (Route 25) from ecomaine, a regional waste and recycling company owned by 20 municipalities. Jon and Danny Shaw, co-owners of Shaw Brothers Construction in Gorham, are proposing their foundation would create a working farm, public recreation trails and a road to access the Presumscot River.

“Shaw Brothers and ecomaine have reached a tentative agreement to sell the property,” Gorham Town Manager David Cole confirmed Wednesday.

“I have a sales agreement,” Jon Shaw confirmed this week.

Cole, an ecomaine director, said the agreement would have to be approved by the ecomaine board of directors.

Kevin Roche, ecomaine chief executive officer, said this week that he’ll present a possible concept from the Shaw Brothers Family Foundation to the ecomaine board of directors. But Roche declined further comment about the proposal.

The website of ecomaine announced a special meeting of its board for 3:50 p.m., on Thursday, March 24, in its Community Room, 64 Blueberry Road, Portland. The agenda said the board might go into executive session, meaning behind closed doors, to discuss a proposal for its Gorham property.

This week’s meeting follows an ecomaine executive session on March 17 to discuss sale of its Gorham property. Shaw said this week he addressed the ecomaine board prior to its executive session last week.

The foundation had offered $1.6 million for the site, while ecomaine had listed the property for $1.9 million. Shaw, who revealed some details of its pending agreement this week, said the foundation has upped its offer to $1.75 million. He also said the foundation would agree to utilize crushed glass from ecomaine in the base of a mile-long road it would construct through the property to the river.

“We have to use recycled materials,” Shaw said about terms in the agreement.

Public recreation proposed at the site would include hiking, cross-country skiing and fishing.The main walking trail, Shaw said, would be named ecomaine Trail. If the deal materializes, Shaw hopes a crew could commence working on the project this coming winter, following what he said is looking like a busy construction season.

The site, known in town as the Ross Grant, once was farmland, but is now largely wooded. Under the Shaws’ proposal, the site would be forever preserved as open space and reflect the town’s agricultural heritage.

Jon and Danny Shaw, who grew up on a Gorham dairy farm, are proposing to restore 100 acres of former hayfields there. The Shaws envision white farm fences at the site, which is a short distance from the town line with Westbrook, once  part of an agricultural green belt.

The nonprofit ecomaine is exempt from paying taxes on its Gorham property and the site is zoned industrial. The Shaws have previously promised the town some frontage would be available to generate tax revenue, but the foundation would not sell any of the property.

If the Shaws’ foundation clinches a deal to buy the property, it would lease a lot to Sebago Brewing to build a new facility, keeping the brewery in Gorham. Sebago Brewing officials previously have said the company has outgrown its present headquarters in Gorham Industrial Park. Lease payments would go to the nonprofit Shaws’ foundation.

Shaw said this week he is optimistic that ecomaine board would approve the deal.

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