In late 1998, the Town of Orono acting through its economid development consultants, Bob Baldacci and Ed Laverty approached George Markowsky about the possibility of developing Ayers Island. The Town was concerned that the property was no longer generating any tax revenue and was no longer being actively maintained. George suggested that Ayers Island be used as a commercialization center for University of Maine technology, and also provide public spaces. Various negotiations took place between Orono and George Markowsky, which led to the eventual agreement between Orono and Ayers Island, LLC. Below is a summary of events since the lease was signed.
YEAR ONE (6/99-5/00)
A lease-purchase agreement between the Town of Orono and Ayers Island, LLC was signed in June 1999. Much time and money was spent by Ayers Island, LLC to clear the title. This was not accomplished until the following year. The agreement was actually signed by the Town of Orono and SciCloid, LLC. To better promote the Ayers Island project, SciCloid decided to do business under the name of Ayers Island, LLC rather than SciCloid, LLC and filed the necessary papers for doing so.
Immediately upon the signing of the agreement, Ayers Island, LLC hired a security guard and secured the various buildings, which had been left completely open.
A significant obstacle in the development of this property is the need for a new two-lane bridge to connect Ayers Island to the mainland. The agreement between the Town of Orono and Ayers Island, LLC calls for the Town to own the bridge and property over which the bridge runs. The Town of Orono, Ayers Island, LLC and Baldacci Associates were successful in getting the bridge put on the State’s bridge building list. If all goes well, there will be a new bridge to the island by fall of 2004. Our hope is that the bridge can be build using the innovative wood composite technologies developed at the University of Maine.
We did a fair amount of work stabilizing various parts of the buildings. In particular, the Millennium Barn received some much needed foundation work, some new sills, and had its broken concrete floor removed. It is now quite stable and is awaiting further development.
We were successful in restoring power to most of the building. Much of the old infrastructure worked on 570 volts, which is no longer supplied by Bangor Hydro. We expect to do a large amount of rewiring, both to bring the electrical service up to code and to utilize the voltages that are currently available.
We placed new roofing over various parts of the building to reduce the amount of water flowing into the building. We did a fair amount of improvement in various drains and put tarps over some parts of the roof .
We removed large amounts of trash from the building including approximately 75,000 pounds of rotten wool. We removed many trashy metallic projections from the side of the building as well.
In May of 2000, we had a student sculpture show which gave a start to the sculpture garden that was discussed earlier. We expect another sculpture shown in May of 2001.
YEAR TWO (6/00-5/01)
All the paperwork for clearing the title was completed in the first half of the year, so now the title is vested in the Town of Orono and the full implementation of the lease-purchase can proceed.
The US EPA hired a contractor to review the site. The contractor delivered a report in December of 2000, recommending relatively minor clean up of the island, but requiring some additional study of the building. Consequently, we will most likely not be finished with the environmental analysis until sometime in Year 3 of this plan.
Ayers Island is now back on the Orono tax roll, and has paid its taxes for the first time in quite a few years.
Work continues on the bridge. The University of Maine has designed a very exciting bridge to showcase their technology. We are working on securing some Federal funding to help finance the bridge construction which is estimated to be around $3,000,000. We made some esthetic improvements to the existing bridge.
We have continued to make essential improvements. More roof repairs and drainage system repairs and installation have been completed and will be completed.
We are close to completing our demo room. This is a 3,000-sq. ft. space that illustrates what the building can look like after some basic renovations are made.
We intend to do a complete engineering study and complete design work for the various parts of the building. This has begun and we already have a 3-D model of the island and the main building. We have used parts of this model for some of the pictures in this document. We have received a $25,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration to help fund this work. More grants are in the works.
We have continued to clean up the building. We have hired salvagers to remove some of the unneeded scrap that can be found throughout the building.
We plan to continue our collaboration with the UM Art Department and will have another outdoor sculpture show in May 2001.
Ayers Island was scheduled for high-speed Internet service using DSL, but VTTS, the company that was to provide the link, over-expanded and went bankrupt. We are working on making new arrangements for connectivity.
Working with the Orono Land Trust, new nature trails have been mapped out. A cross-country skiing trail has been put in place. University of Maine Professor William LePage used the island as a setting for his environmental interpretation class. The class produced an interesting history that we hope to make available in the near future.
We have been working with the Orono-Veazie Water District on restoring water and sewer service to the Island. We plan to have water and sewer available by the middle of 2001.
We are working on marketing materials and hope to attract tenants to Ayers Island in Year 3.
YEAR THREE (6/01-5/02)
We hope that the environmental analysis can be concluded in this year. This is critical for securing bank financing.
We submited proposals to secure state funding for both a Composites Technology Incubator and a Precision Manufacturing Technology Incubator. Unfortunately, both proposals failed.
We intend to begin implementing the Augmented Reality Center and the Crisis Management Center. George Markowsky is one of the founding members of the Multi-Sector Crisis Management Consortium, which has a center in Washington DC and is organized as a Maine-based non-profit corporation (see http://www.mscmc.org).
We will continue working on the various items listed, including the renovation of the Millennium Barn, at least to the point where it can be used seasonally.
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