There will be a new owner of a dormant trash facility in Hampden by the end of June, whether it’s a private company or the towns and cities that use the plant.
The group that represents the 115 towns and cities that used the waste plant until it closed in May 2020 is finalizing a deal that would produce a new owner this summer.
Under that deal, the bondholders that financed the plant’s construction will solicit one more round of bids from prospective buyers of the $90 million facility. If no viable bids come forward, the Municipal Review Committee, the group representing the cities and towns, would become the plant’s owner.
The group currently owns the land on which the plant sits. The plant shut down in May 2020, after only six months of full operations.
The development follows months in which the Municipal Review Committee has struggled to get the bondholders, mostly large investment funds based outside of Maine, to move on the plant’s sale.
There was an offer to purchase the facility on the table in January, awaiting a response from the bondholders for more than a month. Eventually, the company that made the offer, which was never identified, appeared to pull it, said Karen Fussell, president of the Municipal Review Committee’s board.
Fussell on Monday said the committee is encouraged by the latest development. The committee’s board approved the path forward in a meeting on Friday.
“A large part of the challenge with this sale process has been getting the attention of the bondholders and getting them to act on offers that are being made,” she said. “They are now committing to a process that will end in a sale no matter what.”
As part of that process, the Municipal Review Committee would submit a “stalking horse bid,” which would be the lowest bid the bondholders consider, Fussell said. If no viable offers come out of the bondholders’ latest effort to find a buyer for the facility, a sale to the Municipal Review Committee would move forward after June 30, allowing the public group to take control of the plant.
The bondholders plan to hire an investment banker to solicit those bids, Fussell said.
The Municipal Review Committee’s offer will eventually become public, Fussell said, but it will be within the available resources of the group that’s funded by its town, city and waste district members.
The group had nearly $12 million in assets at the end of last year, according to a January report.
In addition to making a bid to purchase the facility, the committee would have to find a way to fund its early operation, as the plant will not likely be profitable for several months after its restart, Fussell said.
That’s why the Municipal Review Committee is seeking alternative funding options from both the state and federal governments, she said.