By John Anderson
At the last Monday’s Selectmen’s meeting, the Board voted 5-0 to recommend Article 25 on the Warrant for the upcoming special town meeting on October 29. The article “Authorizes the Town Manager to enter into a long-term lease agreement for Camp Gleason, for a term not to exceed 20 years.” Camp Gleason is a 15.7 acre site at 285 Central St. that was built by American Steel and Wire Co. as a family retreat. Construction began in 1939, and the facility was dedicated in 1942. The property was deeded over to the Town of Auburn in 1970’s for use as a recreation area. Camp Gleason sits on the lower end of Eddy Pond after it passes under Route 20, but swimming is no longer permitted.
While the main building sees occasional use by the town, it has only been minimally maintained and has seen few improvements. Fishing on Eddy Pond is allowed from the shore. One very positive characteristic is the very large parking area adjacent to the structures. The embedded slide show illustrates the conditions as of last week.
According to a letter from the Town Manager, “We are exploring interest in leasing the space at Camp Gleason for use by community organizations. Our intent is to re-use an underutilized town-owned property by securing a responsible tenant who would invest in improvements to the building, assume the ongoing maintenance and repair of the property, provide occasional access and use of the property by the Town, and generate any other benefits to the Town while ensuring that the proposed use is compatible with surrounding land uses and would not create negative impacts on the neighborhood.”
Since the lease exceeds 3 years, town meeting approval is required. After a positive vote, the town would issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) under Mass General Law Chapter 30B. The RFP has not been written, but criteria would likely include the proposer’s “ability to maintain the property, the ability to make significant leasehold improvements in the building, the ability of the town to be able to utilize the facility if needed, proof of certain levels of insurance and indemnification, and the ability to obtain all local and state permits as required.”
Camp Gleason is a local treasure, and a suitable lessee will hopefully be found. It would be a shame to see this property deteriorate any further.