Belfast is terminating its one-year lease with the Brooks Preservation Society in anticipation of constructing a pedestrian and bicycle path along the city owned rail corridor, and with the intention of writing a new contract that will benefit both parties.

City Manager Joseph Slocum explained to councilors the intent to terminate the lease must be given by Nov. 1 –– otherwise the city will be locked into another one-year contract.

The city’s lease expires Dec. 1 but 30-days notice for the intent to terminate must be given, or the contract will automatically renew.

“With the uncertainty about where will be in a year, I said we would give notice to end the lease with the intent to replace it with a successor lease,” Slocum said.

The city wants to terminate the lease because there is the possibility a trail could be constructed along the corridor, but the city could not begin construction on that trail if the existing contract is still in place.

Joe Feero, executive director for the Brooks Preservation Society, said the lease termination wouldn’t impact the organization’s ability to operate on the rail because a new contract is expected in the future.

Under the terms of the existing contract, Feero said, Brooks could operate on the rail from the Penobscot McCrum property to the county line. In addition, all maintenance and repair costs were the responsibility of the Brooks Preservation Society.

Feero said there are specific terms the organization hopes for in the new contract. The first is to get a 10-year lease to operate on the rail, and the second is to be able to use a portion of the rail from Upper Bridge until construction on a trail begins.

The organization is also looking at alternative locations where they could operate.

“We are currently working with City Point Museum to make that our base of operations,” Feero said.

City Councilor Marina Delune asked if the Brooks Preservation Society would be able to operate from Upper Bridge, as long as it didn’t interfere with construction. Slocum said they would be able to do that and further explained the reason why he felt it was appropriate for the city to terminate the lease.

“The goal is to prevent us from getting locked into a year where we can’t do anything. We want a lease that works for both the railroad and the city,” he said.

Feero noted the railroad is an asset to the local economy because people stay in the city, eat at restaurants and shop at local businesses. In addition, he said the organization looks at way of giving back to the community such as, the Toys for Tots Benefit Train Ride Oct. 27 that offers a free ride to anyone who donates an unwrapped toy

Councilors unanimously voted to send a notice to Brooks Preservation Society that the lease will be terminated.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at