City Council Votes To Formally End Negotiations With Olympia Cos. Over Pier Redevelopment

By Carol McCracken

Late last night, the city council voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of the Community Development Committee to terminate negotiations with Olympia Companies regarding the development of the Maine State Pier. Chair Cheryl Leeman of the CDC stated in her introductory remarks that the redevelopment of the Pier will go forward because the council is committed to that and that what happens next will be decided when the next council is seated in early December.

James Broder, attorney for the city’s negotiating team, stated that it came as no “surprise to anyone that title was unresolved” for the sea bed around the pier itself. The city had taken out title insurance with a reputable title company, but “title insurance could do a lot, but not everything.” Olympia Cos. was not comfortable with this unresolved matter and was advised by its attorneys not to continue with the process.

Broder went on to say that in mid-October a senior member of the staff of the state’s attorney general said: “You know that we have an argument. Don’t give away state property until someone tells us to do that.” The city is facing a lawsuit of 12 – 18 months to resolve the matter.

One public speaker noted the redevelopment of the pier has assumed strong political overtones and urged that politics not get in the way of redeveloping the pier.  At last night’s meeting the political voices were eerily silent.