ESSEX — Town officials have formally extended a request for proposals to companies who can provide "bridge-lease" value appraisals for houses on Conomo Point.
No bids have yet been received, but the proposal requests signify another step in the town's ongoing attempt to administer the seaside property.
The town leases about 100 properties at Conomo Point and the leases have been in place with private leaseholders for close to a century.
The present leases on all of the properties expire Dec. 31, and selectmen are working to develop plans for disposition of the entire property area, which "may include sale of the property and/or new, long-term leasing of the property, and/or retention of the property by the town for public use," according to the town.
Town officials say that, in order to foster a smooth transition between the expiration of the leases and any future plans for the property, the recent Town Meeting granted selectmen the authority to enter into "bridge leases" with residents.
These are defined as short-term leases, not to exceed five years.
Town Meeting also approved a new bylaw that outlines the process by which bridge leases may be offered — including the ability to offer a right of first refusal to current leaseholders as authorized by recently passed special legislation.
During the course of the bridge leases, which officials say will likely cover three one-year terms, selectmen and Town Meeting will take steps to consider and to implement final disposition of the properties.
"The leases expire at the end of the year, so we have to have something in place for when that times comes," said Selectwoman Susan Coviello.
"This project appraises the value of the properties," she said, "and the new leases will be at least a fair-market value."
Town officials say the fees that many residents are paying are less than market value. Some kind of lease must also be in order by Dec. 31 because town finances would be compromised if lease money stopped coming in, officials say.
In a document on the town's website outlining the specifics of the request for proposals, the town states that "the project's primary goal is to value the bridge leases that will likely be offered to the existing leaseholders."
Response to the proposal requests is to be made by Wednesday, July 6. A contract will be awarded "if at all," by July 15, according to town officials.
The project is scheduled to be completed no later than Sept. 9, according to specifications found on the website.
Dyke Hendrickson can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3451, or at email@example.com.