Advocates for Cape Elizabeth's Fort Williams Park rebrand to better reflect mission

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Fort Williams Park Foundation has changed its name to Friends of Fort Williams Park in an attempt to better define and identify the organization’s central purpose: preserving the beauty of the oceanfront park.

To help guide the organization through the change, arboretum director James McCain has been promoted to be executive director of the group.

In addition, the arboretum has been renamed the Ecology Project, which better reflects the organization’s commitment to sustainable landscape management practices in the park, Lynn Shaffer, president of the friends board, said.

She said landscaping priorities include removing invasive species, encouraging indigenous plants and wildlife to take root, and expanding and creating trails and viewpoints to enhance the experience of visiting the park.

“Why are we making these changes? In a single word, ‘clarity,’” Shaffer said. “We’ve discovered people understand what friends groups do, (but) what foundations do is less obvious.”

“Too often, foundations are expected to give away money, while we are dependent on generous gifts (and donations),” she said. “Ecology Project (also) better describes the work we do to restore native vegetation and improve habitat.”

Shaffer said the new Friends of Fort Williams moniker also highlights that the group is dependent on volunteers to do the work, including seeking out and soliciting funding.

She said the rebranding also addresses any confusion as to the nonprofit’s role at the park.

“While Friends of Fort Williams Park works cooperatively with the town of Cape Elizabeth, which owns and operates the park, it is a separate entity that is not involved in the policies that govern the park or in the day-to-day operations and management of the park,” the friends group said in a press release.

“(The friends) provide planning, support and stewardship for selected projects in the park, but does not receive taxpayer funds,” the release added.

McCain said, “I am excited for the opportunity to lead this new chapter of the organization as executive director, working alongside many wonderful people who share my passion for Fort Williams Park.”

“There are many exciting changes happening with Friends of Fort Williams Park, (but) what hasn’t changed is the organization’s commitment to the park itself,” Shaffer said.

“One thing that will not change is our commitment to preserving and enhancing the natural resources and visitor experience of Fort Williams Park.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Arboretum director James McCain is now the executive director of the renamed Friends of Fort Williams Park, formerly known as the Fort Williams Park Foundation. 

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