WISCASSET — A handful of people watched Friday as an auctioneer read a brief statement and opened bidding at the foreclosure and public sale of the Clary Lake dam.

Fredrick Duncan, a Whitefield property owner, handed over a white envelope to Greg Dorr, a retired attorney serving as auctioneer.

No one will know until next week whether Duncan’s bid or any other bid has been accepted.

And no one is likely to know then or for some time whether the transaction will bring any clarity to a complex situation that has been simmering for years at the northern end of Lincoln County, where the lake is in both Jefferson and Whitefield.

The single public bid belies the interest the dam has drawn from property owners along the lake the dam impounds, Whitefield town officials, state elected officials and a state regulatory agency.

In 2014, following two years of wrangling, the Maine Department of Environmental protection issued a water level order for Clary Lake to Pleasant Pond Mill LLC, the owner of the dam. Paul Kelley, the manager of the Pleasant Pond Mill, has in conjunction with AquaFortis Associates LLC and its manager, Richard Smith, challenged DEP’s authority and have appealed the order in Lincoln County Superior Court. The issue went to mediation, which ended without resolution in May 2015. In September 2015, two state lawmakers urged the DEP to take action on the water level order, and the DEP issued a notice of violation for failing to meet the water level order and failing to obtain DEP approval for a final water level management plan, among other things.

Lakefront property owners have been frustrated by the lack of resolution.

During January alone:

• Whitefield selectmen waived foreclosure on the dam for unpaid property taxes that date back to 2013. The total owed, with fees and interest, is $831.15. This is the second time in two years the selectmen have declined to foreclose. Dennis Merrill, chairman of the Whitefield Board of Selectmen, said the board took that tack on the advice of the town’s attorney.

• Robert Rubin and Cheryl Ayer filed suit against Paul Kelley, Richard Smith, AquaFortis Associates LLC and Pleasant Pond Mill LLC in Lincoln County Superior Court seeking damages for the harm they say has been done to their property by the lowered level of Clary Lake. AquaFortis Associates owns property in the vicinity of the dam.

• Negotiations between the Clary Lake Association, a group of lakefront property owners, and Paul Kelley to acquire the dam ended when the association withdrew from settlement discussions; no accommodation could be reached.

• Arthur Enos, who had sold the dam to Pleasant Pond Mill a decade ago, assigned the mortgage to another entity, Medius L3C, a low-profit limited liability company. Enos declined to give any information about the transaction, and little is known about Medius LC3, which orchestrated the foreclosure and the sale. Medius is a Latin word which means the middle or third finger.

• Pleasant Pond Mill has been dismissed as a party to its own appeal of the DEP’s water level order in Lincoln County Superior Court in an order issued Monday, as were all its independent claims. Pleasant Pond Mill had been administratively dissolved in August 2014 and so it lost its standing in the case, the order states.

Kelley did not return a call for comment Friday.

After the auction Friday, Duncan, who has his own interests in the water level of Clary Lake, said he doesn’t want to own the dam. “I just want my land back,” he said.

His property is on the northwest corner of the lake, and anywhere from 10 to 25 acres would be covered by water if the water level is raised.

“Last summer when the water level was so low, we rode our four-wheelers around and we weren’t sinking,” he said. “It was beautiful.”

If ownership of the dam changes hands, the DEP has notified Medius L3C that any subsequent owners of the dam are subject to the water level order and its special conditions, which includes DEP review and approval of any transfer.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ