Cape Elizabeth Land Trust exec moving on after 12 years

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Chris Franklin, Cape Elizabeth Land Trust executive director, is stepping down next month.

Franklin, who has been with CELT since 2003, announced he will leave the organization at the beginning of November. CELT hopes to hire a replacement before Franklin is gone.

“I’m ready to try something new,” Franklin said, adding he wants “new challenges, new opportunities.”

The Cumberland resident said he doesn’t have a new job lined up, but has some projects he’s working on. Franklin also said he’s interested in exploring local agriculture.

“I’m intrigued by the local foods,” he said. “The agriculture community is a vital part of Maine.”

CELT board member Suzanne McGinn said she knows Franklin will succeed in whatever venture he chooses.

“I think it’ll be interesting to see where he lands,” she said. “Someone will be lucky to have him.”

McGinn said Franklin has been a great asset to CELT.

“Chris has been an amazing spokesperson for the organization,” she said. “His depth and breadth of knowledge about land use has been important for his role as executive director.”

CELT is accepting applications from candidates for executive director through Oct. 15. According to the organization’s website, applicants must be able to handle several tasks, including land acquisition, stewardship, fiscal management, fundraising, administration and marketing.

“I hope our new executive director has a broad base of skills,” McGinn said.

Franklin said one of the challenges of the job is balancing all the tasks required of the executive director.

“Being in a small office where there are only two staff members, you wear a lot of hats,” he said.

Franklin said some days he’s in the office writing newsletters and the next he’s out on the trail with a chainsaw. He said he wants to help the new director as he or she settles into the job.

“I’m excited to work with them to make the transition as smooth as possible,” he said.

Franklin said one of the most important parts of the job is working with members of the community.

“I think it’s mostly about relationships and building trust with land owners,” he said.

McGinn said Franklin has done a great job with community outreach.

“He has amazing relationships with farmers and with our donor base,” she said.

Franklin said he enjoys working with residents of Cape Elizabeth and he likes acquiring new pieces of land for people to enjoy.

“The land trust work is a lot like making a jigsaw puzzle,” he said. “It’s really neat to find new pieces that can fit together.”

CELT, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in August, has preserved 29 properties in Cape Elizabeth, totaling more than 660 acres – or 7 percent of town-owned land.

McGinn said Franklin has been instrumental in establishing files for the organization to keep information on the properties.

“There was no baseline documentation of properties before he started,” she said.

Although the job requires a lot of paperwork and behind-the-scenes work, Franklin said he hopes his replacement remembers the focus of the job.

“I hope they keep it fun,” he said. “We’re trying to celebrate access to these beautiful places. I think we’re at our best when we’re facilitating activities for the community.”

McGinn said CELT will miss having Franklin work for the organization, but members of the board are looking forward to finding someone to carry on in his place.

“Chris has been the face of our organization for a dozen years, and we’re going to miss him terribly, but we understand,” she said. “The land trust looks at this as an opportunity.”

Franklin said he looks at it as an opportunity for himself, too, but admits he’ll miss the land trust.

“It’s a bittersweet time for me,” he said. “I really love the work and I think the work the land trust does is so critically important.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Cape Elizabeth Land Trust Director Chris Franklin, who will be leaving in November, helped the organization celebrate its 30th anniversary in August.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.