FREEPORT — Officials at L.L. Bean are in discussions with the association that oversees an old cemetery in Freeport, and cautioned that the sides haven’t reached an agreement in the dispute over access to the graveyard through property the company owns.

Though a statement issued Monday by the Mann Cemetery Association said that L.L. Bean had given its word “that the matter will be worked out,” a company representative would only confirm that the two parties are talking and downplayed any progress.

“It is premature for the Manns to overstate the extent of our discussion and categorize it as a settlement,” Carolyn Beem, the company’s senior public affairs manager, said of the dispute over access to the 18th-century graveyard where at least 160 people are buried.

“While we initiated dialogue, we have not reached an agreement, nor have we considered options beyond one proposal from the Manns, which suggests a road to be built by the association across our property,” Beem said.

The old tote road that people used to access the cemetery so they could look at and care for the graves was dug up, loamed and seeded over when L.L. Bean built its Flying Point paddling center on Marietta Lane and opened it in 2014.

Members of the cemetery association were told to stop crossing the Bean property, and court papers were filed to block the association from gaining legal access. While the cemetery association has a secondary access, it is through a private gated road that is not open to the public.

Bean bought the property for the outdoor center from a Mann family relative in 2003. While a small section of the cemetery contains ancestors of the Mann family, it also has other graves, including some where Freeport’s founding families are interred.

Andrew Arsenault, who has lived his entire life in Freeport, says his first ancestors arrived in the area in 1729, and one is buried in the Mann Cemetery. He remembers when there was a campground on the property.

“When I was a kid, we’d be camping down there sometimes,” Arsenault said. “And we’d walk over to the cemetery … there’s a lot of people down there.”

Arsenault also remembers when Bean went through the planning stages, and the road into the cemetery didn’t appear to be an issue.

“I was under the assumption they were going to let us go down the road,” he said.

While the Mann family has an alternate access, only they can use it and others who have ancestors buried in the cemetery want to visit or care for the sites.

The Mann Cemetery Association and more than a dozen townspeople asked the town this spring to require Bean to re-establish the road and access to the graveyard. The town’s code enforcement officer is asking for clarification on whether Bean was allowed to remove the road in the first place.

Bean appealed the code officer’s finding, but asked Monday night for the Appeals Board to table any decision until after the issues goes before the town Project Review Board in September.

The cemetery association issued the statement Monday saying Bean assured them it would be worked out, but declined to make further comment. About a dozen people attending the meeting indicated afterwards that they just want to see the right thing done.

“We have been working in good faith with the Mann Cemetery Association to find a viable solution,” Beem said.

Susan Sorg can be contacted at:

[email protected]