Proposed Mashnee Land Purchase
By: Diana T. Barth
The question whether town officials are authorized to purchase beachfront land on Mashnee Island, including the site of the Quahog Republic, the former Mashnee Island Grill, has officially been added to the warrant for Bourne’s October 26 Town Meeting.
Whether Community Preservation Act money should be used to buy the property if a currently planned sale to island residents falls through will be the subject at Monday’s meeting of the Community Preservation Committee.
That committee will meet at 7 PM at the Bourne Middle School library to hold a public hearing to discuss Article 16 of the warrant, which calls for the possible acquisition of that property with CPA money, for open space and recreational purposes. The act is funded by a three percent surcharge on Bourne property taxpayers, combined with some matching funding from the state.
That would mean, were the town to successfully purchase the property with that funding, the property would be categorized as open space.
Bourne Community Boating activities could probably be accommodated were the town to purchase the land.
Open space property, by definition, could not used to run a restaurant.
The current Quahog Republic building, officials speculated, might need to be either removed or, perhaps, converted into a bathhouse or other recreational purposes. Exactly what those open space limitations would be is a question that is expected to be raised at Monday’s meeting.
The town had wanted to buy just a portion of the land owned by Mashnee Village Inc., an area comprising the parking lot next to the restaurant and the beachfront used by Bourne Community Boating.
CPC Chairman Barry H. Johnson told selectmen last week that it would not make sense, given that there is already a purchase and sale agreement in existence for all of the corporation’s land, including the restaurant, to limit the town’s authority to purchase just a part of the land.
The exact price of any property purchased with preservation act funding needs to be determined by an appraisal. Such an appraisal is being conducted, Mr. Johnson said, and the amount of money the town would be authorized to offer for the land will be a part of any Town Meeting motion on the article.
Discussion at Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting touched on the language of that proposed article, which references all of the possible ways a town can acquire land, including by eminent domain. The inclusion of that standard language worried some island residents, who questioned whether the town could take that land. Neither selectmen nor the town administrator felt they had the expertise to address the legal necessity for that language.
The preservation committee is expected to reach a vote on its recommendation at Monday’s meeting.
Were the committee to vote not to recommend the use of CPA funds for the purchase, Article 16 would remain on the warrant.
Selectmen said Tuesday that, were that to happen, any voter in the audience could amend the article. Given the Bourne rule, however, they would have to specify how the purchase would be funded, either by approving a cut to the town’s budget of close to $3 million or the borrowing of that much money. More likely, the measure would be indefinitely postponed.
In the meantime, as the town pursues the authority to attempt to purchase the land, Mashnee Island residents met last Saturday to discuss the pending private sale, and Quahog Republic, which leases the land, is conducting business as usual.
The restaurant is holding the grand opening of its Plymouth retail facility on Saturday, and has planned a Halloween Party—no costume, no entry—for Halloween night, October 31.
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