Houlton sets public hearing date on visitor center sale for April 12
HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Town Council held its first meeting regarding the proposed sale of the Visitor Information Center, with a public hearing set to take place on April 12.
The visitor center has been run by the town for the previous nine years and is popular with tourists and locals alike. The town had discussed the potential sale before it received an offer matching the asking price of $290,000. The offer was made by Scribner Hill LLC, a limited liability company owned by Scott Lampher, who is part owner of the Houlton Power Sports store on Route 1.
Several council members said at their March 22 meeting that any public hearing regarding the sale needed to be as transparent as possible.
“I really think it’s important that the public has access to all the information they can on this before the public hearing,”Councilor Sue Tortello said. “This is a sensitive piece of property and a rather complicated matter.”
Councilor Eileen McLaughlin proposed that a public meeting be held in person, in a socially distanced manner, so that participation would be as great as possible.
“I think a lot of people are not familiar with Zoom, especially with the elderly population, and we have a big elderly population,” McLaughlin said. “So I’d like to make a request if there’s a possibility to have a public hearing in a place that could be socially distanced, like a high school gym for instance.”
Town Manager Marian Anderson said that all information would be posted on the town’s website for people to inform themselves before the public meeting takes place.
“We have the documents, so we can do that,” Anderson said. “And I can reach out to Mr. Lampher to see if he is available the night of the public hearing.”
In order to sell the property, the town would need to purchase the property from the state and flip it to the buyer, in this case Scribner Hill LLC. It is unknown whether the sale of the property would mean the visitor center would continue to exist in its current location. Anderson said the town and the chamber of commerce had met with state officials to discuss a possible relocation if needed.