CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council has adopted a policy that ensures the town will continue to maintain Goddard Mansion at Fort Williams Park.
Councilors on Nov. 4 approved the policy after receiving the results of a survey that was included with tax bills sent out in October. Of 793 responses, 51.7 percent said they wanted the structure to be stabilized by the town in a safe manner.
In other responses, 28.1 percent of people said the mansion should be sold or repurposed as housing or a restaurant, while 12.9 percent of responders said it should be demolished. The remaining 7.3 percent selected “other” on the survey.
According to the town’s website, Goddard Mansion was built in the 1850s and was the home of Civil War Col. John Goddard. In 1900 it was bought by the U.S. government and used as housing for non-commissioned officers. Over the years, the mansion fell into disuse, was vandalized, and damaged by fires.
In 2009, the Town Council voted to prohibit access to the mansion for safety reasons, “while still maintaining the facade for historical appreciation,” and spent $6,000 to put up a chain link fence around the perimeter.
The town has been maintaining the mansion for decades, but the policy approved last week formalizes the town’s intentions.
“You’re really affirming the current policy that was never formally adopted,” Town Manager Mike McGovern said. “This actually adopts the formal policy.”
According to McGovern, the town spends an average of $5,000 a year maintaining Goddard Mansion. He said some years the cost is higher, and other years no money is spent at all.
Looking at the town’s care of the structure was a Town Council goal proposed by Councilor Jamie Wagner this year.
Councilor Jim Walsh said he is happy there is now a clear policy in place. Councilor Molly MacAuslan agreed, adding that she is glad the council asked residents about the issue.
“If we had seen input from citizens that they wanted to see something particular done with it, I would have supported it wholeheartedly,” MacAuslan said. “I’d still like to see something done with it in the future, but I agree … I think it’s really important for the Fort Williams Advisory Commission, for the town as a whole, to know that we have a policy in place, we have clarity, we understand what the expectations are.”
Wagner also said he may like to see Goddard Mansion repurposed in the future.
“I was pleased to see that close to 30 percent of people were interested in alternative uses,” he said. “I’m happy with the stabilization policy for now, but I’m glad to see the citizenry is interested in possible repurpose.”
In response to a survey of residents, the Town Council has adopted a formal policy saying the town will continue to maintain Goddard Mansion at Fort Williams Park.