City Councilors formalized a long-term lease with Brooks Preservation Society and approved a deal to allow Belfast to acquire easements at City Point Station associated with developing a recreational trail.

Belfast has been working with Brooks Preservation Society to create an agreement that would allow the city to acquire property at City Point Station, which Brooks is purchasing, in order to construct parking and restroom facilities that would serve the rail trail that extends from Penobscot McCrum to Oak Hill Road.

As part of the deal to acquire easements at City Point Station, the city would make an initial payment of $37,400 at the time of closing when Brooks Preservation Society takes ownership of the property from Mack Page. In addition, the city will make monthly payments of $5,000 to Brooks Preservation Society for a period of 15 years.

The funds to pay for the acquisition of the property easements, as well as the development of the rail trail, will come from a fundraising campaign spearheaded by Coastal Mountains Land Trust. Slocum would not reveal how much money has been raised to date by Coastal Mountains Land Trust, but he did express confidence that the group would be able to fulfill its fund raising goals.

Slocum noted that the payments to acquire the property easements at City Point Station are contingent upon the Federal Transportation Administration approving the city's request to convert the rail to a recreational trail.

He further explained that the easements at City Point Station are related to Brooks Preservation Society's request to secure a 25 year lease with the city in order to allow the organization to run train excursions from City Point Station.

Brooks Preservation Society Executive Director Joe Feero approached the council during a previous meeting Tuesday, Sept. 17, to ask the city to grant the organization a 25 year lease to operate trains on the rail corridor from City Point Station out to the Waldo town line, which is owned by Belfast.

Feero explained to councilors during the Sept. 17 meeting that the long-term lease is needed to allow Brooks Preservation Society time to realize a return on their investment for purchasing City Point Station and making a number of improvements to its operations.

During the Sept. 17 meeting, he estimated Brooks Preservation Society could invest up to $550,000 over the course of a 15 year period. Feero noted it would take about 10 years before the organization is able to realize any kind of return on its investment.

Slocum explained to councilors the terms of the lease require Brooks Preservation Society to inspect and maintain the section of city owned rail extending from City Point Station out to the Waldo town line in lieu of a monthly lease fee.

If Brooks Preservation Society defaults on the mortgage, the city becomes the beneficiary of the City Point Station Property, and the 25 year lease is terminated.

Councilor Mike Hurley praised Brooks Preservation Society during discussion about the lease.

“I think it's a great operation,” Hurley said.

Councilors unanimously approved the terms of the 25 year lease and the agreement to acquire easements at City Point Station.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.