Bath council OKs conservation easement for land trust

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BATH — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously conveyed a conservation easement on city-owned land at Butler Head to the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust.

The panel had tabled the matter last month so that abutters could be notified of the discussion.

The approximately 141-acre parcel is located in the northern part of the city, on Merrymeeting Bay. City Manager Bill Giroux noted that the City Council had been approached several times over the years about selling off small parts of the property. Giroux did not know of any other sale in the past seven years, outside of the sale of less than one acre last year.

Councilor David Sinclair said he and Councilor Sean Paulhus brought the item before the City Council “in hopes of protecting this natural and unique asset of the city in perpetuity from further development and/or sale, and I urge my fellow to embrace it.”

Councilor Leverett Mitchell said he had heard a lot of response from the abutters, and that most of them were in favor of the easement. One abutter raised concern about how Butler Head Road would be maintained by the city, after conveyance of the easement; Giroux said the road would continue to be maintained at its current level.

Turf field

Earlier in the meeting the council heard an update from Kay Beveridge, co-chairwoman of Fields for Our Future, on that group’s progress raising money for an artificial turf field at the Edward J. McMann Outdoor Athletic Complex.

The group has raised about 90 percent of its $580,000 goal, Beveridge said, and hopes to raise the rest by the end of next month and have the field installed this summer.

“We’re going to need everybody’s help (to complete the fundraising),” she said after the meeting. “We’re going to need to rally.”

Beveridge added that “the reason we’ve raised half a million dollars is because people feel that this is not just a donation, but an investment.”

The City Council and residents debated turf field funding in 2010. Fields for Our Future raised $270,000 for the project before the group approached the council about borrowing the remaining funds.

The council voted 5-4 in February 2010 to borrow up to $300,000 for the turf field, but a successful petition drive sent the matter to a referendum. Voters defeated the borrowing proposal in June 2010.

The City Council then voted 5-1 that September to support the turf installation, as long as there was no request for or appropriation of taxpayer funds.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.