Ruth’s House ownership comes to a head Jan. 14

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 8:30am

What could be for the people of Southport and of the wider Boothbay region and its visitors could also be gone by Monday, Jan. 14, said Nancy Prisk of Land for Southport's Future.

LFSF has been trying since it formed in 2015 to acquire the Ruth Gardner house as a place of community engagement and in December 2017 signed the purchase and sale contract for $800,000.

On its Dec. 19 deadline, LFSF approached Southport's selectmen – Chair Gerald Gamage, Smith Climo and Mary Lou Koskela – with an assurance of $650,000 for the Gardner house and the three-plus acres it sits on. After about 15 minutes of deliberation with the town's realtor, Clayton Pottle, the selectmen declined the offer with the promise of a counter offer to follow.

Prisk said the following counteroffer came to the table on Friday, Dec. 28 and consisted of two possible deals: $650,000 for the Gardner House and 1.5 acres or $800,000 for the house and the full three-plus acres. The absolute deadline for a confirmation of financing falls on Monday, Jan. 14.

“The land with the $650,000 would exclude the natural land and since we are looking at our program being in line with the environmental sensitivity of Rachel Carson, it did not seem right to carve off the natural land and leave us sitting on a bare piece of lawn,” said Prisk.

LFSF has had to make the decision to move ahead with the second of the offers which will include a final burst of fundraising to meet that goal, said Prisk. Thus, the nonprofit is now actively looking for ways to find cooperative opportunities within the communities to reach the goal of $800,000.

“We hold the purchase and sale with one contingency on it and we lose it on Monday,” said Prisk. “If there is someone in line behind us, I can't imagine they wouldn't have their offer contingent. So, we need the cooperative effort of this entire region because what this property can be is a common space, as it has been for years, for community engagement for the entire region.”