Cape Elizabeth council OKs funding for Shore Road Pathway

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CAPE ELIZABETH — After nearly six years of proposals, planning and discussion, the Town Council on Monday night voted 6-0 to fund construction of the Shore Road Pathway.

Councilor Anne Swift-Kayatta was not present at the meeting.

The council accepted a $729,000 grant from the Maine Department of Transportation, accepted $100,000 in privately raised funds and appropriated $75,000 from the Infrastructure Improvement Fund to pay for the project.

According to Town Manager Michael McGovern, the project is estimated to cost $937,000. With an additional $93,000 in contingency, or 10 percent of the construction value, the two-mile path will cost a little over $1 million, he said. 

Council chambers were filled with pathway supporters. Many residents and children spoke in favor of the project.

Jim Kerney, treasurer and co-chairman of Safe Access For Everyone – the nonprofit organization created to raise money for the path – said there has been overwhelming and diverse support for the project.

But a few residents expressed concerns.

Karen Holmes of Olde Colony Lane said she had mixed emotions about the path. She said even with a path along Shore Road, speeding vehicles will always be a danger.

Nelson Silva, also a resident of Olde Colony Lane, asked if SAFE could raise more money if given more time, and Bill Downes, another resident of Olde Colony Lane, questioned the path’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

McGovern told Silva any delay in the project could prompt the DOT to pull funding for the project. He also said the the path will have segments that everyone will able to enjoy, regardless of their mobility.

Councilor Jessica Sullivan voted against the Shore Road Path in the past, but supported the funding Monday night.

“I did not support personally the Shore Road Pathway, but I am sure it’s going to be a reality, and when it is I certainly want it to be successful,” she said.

A little more than $100,000 was raised by SAFE, although the group’s goal was $200,000. Other funds were used to supplement the local match.

McGovern said $60,000 will come from a Town Center Sidewalk account; $40,000 from a Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System grant, and $26,000 will come from the balance of a fund used last July to pay for path permits and surveys.

The Infrastructure Improvement Fund is funded by a 30 percent surcharge on building permits. McGovern said the $75,000 from that fund will not have an impact on property taxes.

Councilor Sara Lennon said she always assumed the town would help fund the path in some way. She said residents are receiving a very good deal for a relatively small amount of money.

“The vast majority of the town is yearning for this,” she said. “It is the best bargain I’ve seen in a long time.”

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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Town completes property revaluation

CAPE ELIZABETH — Assessor Matthew Sturgis has completed the first property revaluation since 2003.

Sturgis said the revaluation corrects inequities in assessments throughout town. He said over the past eight years, some of the nearly 3,500 residential properties have ranged in valuation from 60 percent to 84 percent of market value.

He said the revaluation moves the town’s overall assessment ratio from about 78 percent to close to 100 percent of market value.

“The intention of this equalization is to be at full market value,” Sturgis said. “I also recommend updating values every three to four years.”

Sturgis said the overall taxable assessments increased about 24 percent and the town valuation increased from $1.37 billion to $1.64 billion.

As a result of the new valuation, Sturgis said about 30 percent of homeowners will see their property taxes decline, 30 percent will see no change or experience a slight increase, and about 30 percent will see a larger increase.

In light of the new assessments, Sturgis said he projects a 2012 tax rate of $15.18 per $1,000 of value, which is $3.10 less than the $18.28 that was estimated without the revaluation.

Homeowners have been notified of their new assessment by letter and Sturgis is available for questions about assessment adjustments beginning May 24. He said he will set the tax rate in August, and homeowners will see the new tax rate on the October 2011 bill.

— Amy Anderson

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