The Rumford Board of Selectmen has approved a purchase-option agreement on 150 acres of town-owned land off Route 108 to allow Poland Spring to look into the feasibility of establishing its fourth bottling plant there.

Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs said the option agreement for the first year is $25,000, which would eventually go toward the purchase price of $400,000.

“If they push the option out to the second year,” she said, “it’s an additional $20,000, whether they decide to go or not, and that isn’t involved in the purchase price.”

A special town meeting will be required to ratify the agreement, approved 4-0 by selectmen on Sept. 6.

Briggs said the special town meeting Oct. 9 is needed because “when citizens approved designating that area as a TIF (tax increment financing) district, they didn’t grant the authority to sell the land.”

The acreage to be studied encompasses two town-owned lots, including the vacant Puiia Business Park.

“What they’re looking at is not just the Puiia Business Park, but under the power lines as well as the other side of the power lines,” Briggs said. “We own on both sides of the power lines.”

Poland Spring said in February 2017 that it was is seeking a new site in western Maine for a $50 million water bottling plant that would employ up to 80 workers.

Mark Dubois, a Poland Spring hydrogeologist and the company’s natural resource manager, said recently that the company is exploring the feasibility of such a project in Rumford.

“By no means are we making a decision, anything final,” he said.

He said the company will look into mapping of wetlands and conditions, access on foot and by vehicle, geology studies and depth of rock, feasibility and many other factors.

“We’re still looking at possibilities in Fryeburg, Rumford and Lincoln, all three sites,” said Dubois.

If the company decides to site a bottling plant in Rumford, the water would be piped underground to the plant, he said.

Regarding the possible $400,000 purchase price down the line for the land, Briggs said: “(The price) is a good deal for the town based on the value of the land. It’s been there since 2002 with no activity on it.”

Meanwhile, work is nearing completion at Poland Spring’s loading station, located near the Rumford Point-Hanover town line.

Dubois said the facility, now 95 percent complete, will receive spring water delivered by pipeline from the Ellis spring site 3 miles away. Production will begin in 2019.

Called the Poland Spring Rumford Community Fund, it is part of the 15-year agreement, signed in August 2017 between the Rumford Water District and Poland Spring Water Co. to draw up to 150 million gallons of water a year from two district wells.

In lieu of taxes, Nestlé Waters, which owns Poland Spring, would put $50,000 a year for the first four years into the fund for town projects, and $20,000 per year for 15 years into the fund.

Bruce Farrin can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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