Cape Elizabeth council drops request to place Shore Road Path in Robinson Woods

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Faced with the possibility of an indefinite delay, the town has dropped its effort to have a portion of the Shore Road Pathway run through property managed by the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust.

In June, the Town Council voted unanimously to help the trust fund a $1.1 million land acquisition known as Robinson Woods II – a nearly 65-acre parcel next to Robinson Woods, which is owned by CELT and subject to a conservation easement held by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

But in an amendment to that vote, the council asked CELT to allow a portion of the pathway through Robinson Woods. When CELT balked, some councilors wanted to reconsider the pledge of $350,000 toward acquisition of Robinson Woods II.

At a July council meeting the motion to reconsider the funding failed 3-3, but the council provided CELT with a modified proposal to consider.

On Monday, Town Manager Michael McGovern said the proposal was reconsidered when the Maine Department of Transportation informed the town of a Federal Highway Administration provision that protects publicly held conservation land.

Under to the provision, anyone could challenge a decision allowing Shore Road Pathway access to Robinson Woods, prompting a review process and potential delays, McGovern said.

“MDOT advised us that if that happened, the Shore Road project could get delayed for years – they also used the term ‘indefinitely,'” he said. “It’s probably not in the  best interest of the town to subject ourselves to (these) provisions.”

Without a formal vote, but with unanimous sentiment, the council agreed to not pursue further discussion with CELT to consider Robinson Woods access.

With that out of the way, McGovern said the pathway project is “off and running.”

He said the town has signed the project agreement with the DOT and is now eligible to receive a $729,000 grant.

The council also voted 6-0, with Councilor Sara Lennon absent, to accept $104,500 in funds from the private fundraising group, Safe Access For Everyone.

Councilors also voted to accept a sidewalk easement and temporary construction easement from Key Bank at the corner of Shore Road and Route 77, and a drainage easement for property next to Pond Cove brook.

In other business, the council voted 6-0 to approve amendments to the town’s purchasing procedure, which McGovern said has not been updated in a while.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.

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Nomination papers available

CAPE ELIZABETH — Nomination papers for the Nov. 8 municipal election are available at the town clerk’s office at 320 Oean House Road.

Town Council seats held by Chairman David Sherman and Councilor Anne Swift-Kayata and School Board seats held by Kathy Ray and Chairwoman Mary Townsend are on the ballot this year. All are three-year terms.

Papers are due in the town clerk’s office by 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9. Residents must collect between 25 and 100 signatures from registered voters and must appear in person prior to the deadline to complete the nomination papers.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8, when polls will be open at the Cape Elizabeth High School gymnasium from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

— Amy Anderson

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