Havre de Grace's cherished public waterfront could grow soon, if voters approve a purchase offer agreement for a property just north of the Concord Point Lighthouse.
The city is also planning to establish a new park on a vacant parcel near Citizens Care Center.
Monday night, the city council approved a purchase offer agreement for 701 Concord Street, which city attorney Paul Ishak said is about 48,000 square feet and is being offered by the owners for $1,290,000. The property has frontage on the Susquehanna River.
Ishak said the funding requirements would be $40,000 from the general funds this fiscal year and $1.25 million of a bond or note upon voter approval, to have a 4 percent interest rate that is owner-financed for 25 years.
The charter requires this to be approved by city voters and the most appropriate time to do that would be during the city election in May, Ishak said.
The city could get possession of the property as soon as July if voters approve it, he said.
According to Maryland property tax records, 701 Concord is owned by members of the Gamatoria family, including former city councilman Stephen Gamatoria. Two of the parcels are not listed under 701 Concord Street on the property tax records, Steve Gamatoria explained in an interview Wednesday.
The site was appraised on May 9, 2012 by Jay Edwards & Associates and includes three parcels, plus the house.
Total annual property taxes for the parcels are $10,229. The appraisal showed the latest assessment rating for the property on July 1, 2012 at $1,014,900.
According to the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation records, the latest assessment for the property, which was reassessed in the 2012 calendar year, is set at $1,029,133 for July 1,2013, the beginning of the next county tax year.
The property includes the four-bedroom home, which has a two-car garage, a sunroom with decks, a bathroom with a handicap shower, Jacuzzi, master bath and pocket doors throughout.
Gamatoria said he talked with Mayor Wayne Dougherty in January 2012 about making the property available to the city.
"My goal is, it would remain open space," he said, adding that when he was on the council, "one of the things I think all of us agreed to on the council that time was we needed to increase the inventory of open space, when available."
Gamatoria noted the waterfront is truly the main draw of Havre de Grace.
His property, meanwhile, has a long history as the Havre de Grace Yacht Club in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as other functions, he said.
"We looked at it, really, as a stewardship," he said of the property. "I think in the macro sense – 100 years, 200 years, 300 years from now – we really are just a very short steward of anything that we own."
Gamatoria bought the land in 1995 and said he plans to move elsewhere in the area. He has building lots in the Havre de Grace Heights, off Currier Street, and is also looking at other homes.
"Whatever we do, it's going to be completely, 100 percent handicap accessible," he said, explaining he wants the new home to be accessible to his family for the long term. "This house is not conducive for accessibility," he added.
If the voters approve the purchase, Gamatoria would have to move by Jan. 1, 2014. He does not know what he would do if they reject the proposal, but he said he intends to move eventually in any case.
"I don't really want to sell the property to a private owner," he added.