Cape residents show support for new trails

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 CAPE ELIZABETH — About 40 people crammed into the Town Hall’s lower conference room Tuesday night to learn more from the Conservation Commission about proposals to create public walking trails on some shore-view roads.

The commission is discussing a possible new trail project to extend through the paper streets of Surfside Avenue and Atlantic Place. A second trail project involves Lighthouse Point Road.

The commission will continue discussing the shoreline trails at its next meeting, set for 7 p.m. June. 13.

“The preliminary conclusion is that both of these things are feasible,” said Town Planner Maureen O’Meara on Thursday morning.

Neither one is a priority at this point, O’Meara said, and talks need to continue.

“It’s still a draft, and the committee will probably make a decision June 13,” O’Meara said.

Documents explaining the potential trail projects will be posted to the town’s website several days before the June 13 meeting. According to the 2013 Greenbelt Plan, Cape Elizabeth has 24.5 miles of trails.

The May 9 discussion follows work by the commission last summer on trails along so-called “paper streets.” Paper streets are roads that have been laid out or drawn on building plans but remain undeveloped and are not accepted by a town. 

The Conservation Commission is working with consultant Sebago Technics, Inc. of South Portland to determine the right of way and wetland concerns. The Town Council in October 2016 charged the Conservation Commission with reviewing possible public trail creation near Surfside Avenue and Atlantic Place.

The path would begin just beyond the paved “portion of Pilot Point Road near the intersection with Waumbeck Road. From the easterly side of the gravel road extension of Pilot Point Road, the path would potentially meander southeast through existing trails within the limits of (Surfside) Avenue,” a Sebago Technics memo notes.

Most people at the meeting spoke in support of the trails, saying Surfside Avenue is suitable for a trail and the area’s natural beauty is too great not to share with other people.

“It is for the entire community,” said Katahdin Road resident Sue Guerrette.

On Jan. 6, 2014, the Town Council adopted the 2013 Greenbelt Plan. According to information on the town’s website about the Conservation Commission’s work, “The first Greenbelt Plan was adopted by the Town of Cape Elizabeth in 1977 and has become an integral component of the community’s character and commitment to the preservation of open space.

“The 2013 Greenbelt Plan update continues the earliest goals of the town greenbelt and fully articulates goals for fulfilling the potential for a town-wide greenbelt. The plan focuses open space preservation on land that (1) maintains the town’s rural character, (2) protects wildlife habitat, and (3) adds to the trail system. This plan identifies 10 goals to guide greenbelt growth.”

Lisa D. Connell can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or Follow Lisa on Twitter: @connell_ld.

Lisa D. Connell / The Forecaster

Cape Elizabeth residents speak in support of public walking trails near Surfside Avenue and Atlantic Place at a May 8 Conservation Commission meeting.