Cape Elizabeth again eyes bus, trolley fees at Fort Williams Park

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CAPE ELIZABETH — As a way to increase revenue for Fort Williams Park, the Town Council will again consider a proposal to charge an entrance fee for tour buses and trolleys, starting in 2012.

The Fort Williams Advisory Commission will present the recommendation to councilors on Monday, June 13.

The proposal includes a $40 fee for all tour buses and a seasonal charge of $1,500 for trolleys. Camp and recreation program buses would not be charged, and neither would small buses and vans operated by housing facilities or agencies.

Using data generated last year, the commission has determined that with three trolleys and 784 buses visiting the park, the fees could generate nearly $36,000.

Town Manager Michael McGovern said the money would be used for the park’s capital expenses. He said other sources of revenue, such as fees for the picnic shelter and advertising, have generated some income, and new funding sources – including a $25,000 fee for the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K and about $10,000 from food cart permits – have helped, too.

Past attempts to generate park revenue from entrance or parking fees have been unsuccessful.

In 2006, the council sent a pay-and-display vehicle parking fee question to a referendum, but voters rejected it by a margin of nearly 3-1.

In 2009, the commission proposed entrance fees for trolleys, tour buses and buses associated with recreational programs, starting with the 2011 season. In February 2010, the council unanimously agreed to have McGovern meet with tour bus representatives to discuss fee proposals.

But a year ago, after councilors voted 5-2 for vehicle parking fees, voters again defeated that proposal, by a 2-to-1 margin.

After that setback, the council decided to not to move forward with tour bus fees for the 2011 season, but agreed to consider fees in an overall plan for generating revenue for the park.

In other business on Monday, the council will consider allocating $200,000 from a proposed bond and $150,000 from a Land Acquisition Fund to help pay for 64 acres of land next to Robinson Woods.

The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust recently acquired the land from the Robinson family for $1.1 million, but will need the support of town, state and private donations to purchase the property.

If the council agrees to allocate the $350,000 for the acquisition, the funds will be spent only when the property is formally acquired, the town receives a public access easement to the land and all other funds for the acquisition are provided to CELT.

According to the council agenda, if the property is not acquired in conformance with the  agreement between CELT and the Robinson Family LLC, the $350,000 will remain unassigned within the Land Acquisition Fund.

McGovern said the Land Acquisition Fund totals $200,000 and is funded through the sale of town-owned property, easements and building permit fees.

The council is also expected to receive a town center update and approve a new mutual aid agreement with Scarborough.

The June 13 meeting is at Town Hall at 7:30 p.m.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.

Sidebar Elements

Input sought for park master plan update

CAPE ELIZABETH — In keeping with the Comprehensive Plan’s recommendation to update the Fort Williams Park Master Plan every seven years, the Fort Williams Advisory Commission has developed a public survey to gather information about park use, safety concerns and economic opportunities.

The FWAC will hold a public meeting on Thursday, June 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Public Works building, 10 Cooper Drive, to discuss the master plan update. A public meeting is also expected in the fall when a draft plan is complete.

The confidential survey is available online at until 11 p.m. on July 8. Paper copies are available at Town Hall and Thomas Memorial Library.