Salt ’n Spar

A possible future for Mason Station

Wed, 02/21/2024 - 8:30am

    In January, I received an email from Ryan Gahagan, president of Mason Station Redevelopment Company LLC, based in Portland. His comments were in response to publication of a column I’d written about the former power station that faces Wiscasset harbor. I’ve never met Mr. Gahagan, although I’d interviewed him for the Boothbay Register-Wiscasset Newspaper this past June. He told me then he, along with a partner, were in the early stages of formulating a potential plan to develop the huge brick building and pier left behind when the plant shut down in 1990-91.

    I recently got in touch with Mr. Gahagan and he had no objection with me sharing some of his comments with you. “I’m writing to tell you how much I really enjoyed your article “Big Ships, Tugboats on the Sheepscot River.” They are excellent photos and a really great story,” he wrote in his email.

    “As we continue our development plans for the site, it is very important to me personally to celebrate the history of Mason Station and the men and women who designed, built, and operated the plant,” he continued. “It’s a marvel of engineering and we want to showcase that as much as possible, through preserving some of the equipment and tools inside the powerhouse and maintaining as much of the building and facade as possible. Safety is of course paramount, so the structural integrity needs a thorough evaluation. Some of the pier structure we expect to be able to preserve, but we will also have to follow all environmental regulations, so there may be some elements we cannot save. So one important task will be researching and collecting photographs and news articles and any historical information we can to display throughout the building,” he added.

    “Our plans are still evolving for the powerhouse. There is a significant amount of asbestos, including the caulking and treatment on all the windows, let alone the four boilers and several miles of pipes still remaining inside, and removal of that is costly. But we have strong interest from several businesses that would like to be a part of this project and we plan to focus on light-industrial and mixed-use commercial redevelopment of the powerhouse and screen houses. There is some information on our website…,” Mr. Gahagan concluded.

    Their newly launched website offers a great deal more as to potential areas of development including perhaps a marina, riverside restaurant and retail shops. Other options are workforce housing, light manufacturing, or commercial fishing. There’s also background information on Gahagen and his partner, Aaron Svedlow, owner and president of the Falmouth-based North Light Energy LLC.

    I contacted Mr. Gahagen last week asking if the project ends up happening, what’s the soonest he envisioned any business(es) opening there. He wrote back Feb. 19 stating, “Summer 2026 would be the soonest. It all depends on a rigorous approval process from several state and local agencies with significant opportunity for public engagement and participation.”

    I mentioned it was previously reported in this newspaper that he and Svedlow had exercised a three-year option to purchase the Mason Station building asking him to further explain what that meant.

    “We executed (signed) an option agreement in August 2023. The three-year agreement gives us the exclusive right to acquire Mason Station LLC, the owner of 8.3 acres on Birch Point, including the Mason Station Powerhouse, out buildings, and pier structure,” he replied in the same Feb. 19 email. “The option is legally binding enough to provide us the ability to secure agreements with third-parties (like potential tenants) and development financing. During the three-year term, we are conducting due diligence and have two milestones we need to achieve. If all goes well, we would then choose to exercise the option to acquire the property,” he explained. 

    Gahagan added that he’d met with Dennis Simmons, Wiscasset town manager and Economic Development Director Aaron Chrostowsky on Tuesday, Feb 13. “We are preparing for another meeting with the Selectboard soon,”  he said.

    The Mason Station building has been vacant now for nearly 35 years. I think most people would agree it would be good to see a private investor do something positive with the building and pier. The town of Wiscasset has been cleaning up the property abutting the former power station as funding has become available. The intent is to eventually make this land marketable for future development. Although Wiscasset is bordered on one side by the Sheepscot River something the town doesn’t have is an abundance of privately owned, taxable waterfront property.

    Gahagan had asked me about photographs of Mason Station and I’ve included a few here taken when I toured the power plant in the late 1970s. The facility owned then by Central Maine Power Co. was being used as a “stand-by” plant providing electricity for NEPA, the New England Power Pool.

    Phil Di Vece earned a B.A. in journalism studies from Colorado State University and an M.A. in journalism at the University of South Florida. He is the author of three Wiscasset books and is a frequent news contributor to the Boothbay Register-Wiscasset Newspaper. He resides in Wiscasset. You can contact him at