Chris Backman, Orrington town manager, stands near the new sign for a new business park where the former Holtra Chem plant was along route 15 in Orrington. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Orrington is finally moving ahead with plans to establish two new business parks that have been on the drafting table for years.

Eagle Point Business Park, located on land formerly owned by a chemical manufacturing plant along Route 15, is ready to be developed after the Maine Department of Environmental Protection greenlit the town’s development plans earlier this summer and found the land free of contamination.

The development there will take place as cleanup continues on the neighboring land where the HoltraChem Manufacturing plant was located.

That plant produced 23,000 pounds of toxic mercury waste each year for decades while making chemicals for papermaking and other industries. The cleanup of the Penobscot River from decades of mercury contamination is the subject of a 22-year legal battle that is nearing resolution in federal court.

Orrington recently erected a sign at the business park site and launched a website,, to help market the 34 lots available for development.

A sign that reads "Eagle Point Business Park"
Orrington is marketing its business parks on a portion of the former HoltraChem plant on Route 15 and off Brewer Lake Road. This sign is along Route 15 where the entrance to the site along the Penobscot River will be. Plans include recreational trails along the shoreline. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

The town owns about 160 acres there, but only 55 acres have been slated for development, according to Town Manager Chris Backman. The remaining land has been set aside for recreation, with plans to build walking and biking trails in the park and along the riverfront, he said.

Over the past three years, the town has been “doing its due diligence” at the site, having soil, wetlands, vernal pool and archeological studies done, said James Stoneton, chair of the town’s Economic Advisory Committee.

Construction of the road into the business park is expected to begin next year with money the town has set aside over the years.

Farther to the north and east, the 130-acre East Orrington Business Park, off Brewer Lake Road, has a tenant ready to sign a long-term lease to erect a solar array. That firm has agreed to build the road into the park and provide the town with electricity free of charge for its town office, public safety building, school and other municipal buildings.

“The savings in electricity along with the lease payment and the tax revenue generated from the solar farm is estimated to be $225,000 per year,” Backman said.

The town has not released the name of the firm.

The road into the park is expected to be completed this year, with the solar farm most likely being constructed next year, according to Stoneton.

A different firm that would take power off the grid and store it in giant batteries until it is needed and can be returned to the grid also is considering locating in the park. That firm’s name hasn’t been made public, either.

Long-term plans call for a different parcel there to be developed as a training facility for police and firefighters, according to Backman.

The town approved initial plans for the East Orrington park in 2011 but development stalled over the years while the town focused on working to develop the property farther south.

The town hopes the Eagle Point Business Park will be attractive to small businesses, including family businesses, needing to grow. Stoneton envisions 5,000- to 6,000-square-foot warehouses or 1,000- to 2,000-square-foot offices being constructed there.

The Bangor area’s commercial real estate market has grown tighter in recent years, limiting existing businesses’ potential to expand.

“It would be perfect for some Mom-and-Pop running a successful small business out of their garage that has outgrown it,” he said. “We are open to just about anything that is compatible with Orrington’s vision for the park.”

A man points to an area of land where a business park would be built.
Chris Backman, Orrington town manager, describes the plan for a new business park on land adjacent to the former HoltraChem plant on Route 15. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

HoltraChem operated on the property adjacent to the business park from 1967 to 2000. After the plant shut down, the town took the entire 235-acre factory site in 2006 through tax delinquency. But in early 2014, Mallinckrodt US LLC of St. Louis, a former plant owner, paid Orrington $175,000 for the 63 acres the Department of Environmental Protection said were contaminated.

Orrington’s pitch to businesses interested in the park includes the town’s low tax rate for the region, the property’s railroad access and proximity to I-95, and the potential for power and steam from the adjacent Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. incinerator that produces electricity from household waste.

The pending cleanup of mercury in the Penobscot River, agreed to after a more than 20-year court battle, is not expected to affect the business park’s development of the business park.