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Cape Elizabeth councilors approve Shore Road pathway plan, phased-in development

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Cape Elizabeth councilors approve Shore Road pathway plan, phased-in development

CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council voted 6-1 Sept. 14 to support the Shore Road Pathway conceptual plans.

Councilors also voted to complete the path in phases contingent upon funding, to endorse the purpose statement and path design of the project as recommended by an advisory committee, and approved town staff to find state and federal funding for the project.

In addition to concept plan approval, the council voted 4-3 to spend up to $110,000 from town funds for permitting, surveying and final design of the pathway.

Councilor Penny Jordan dissented in all the votes, and said she was not 100 percent sold on the plans.

"I am mostly concerned about the cost," she said. "I cannot support allocating dollars at this time."

Council Chairman Jim Rowe and Councilors Anne Swift-Kayatta, Sara Lennon, David Backer, David Sherman, and Paul McKenney voted to endorse the pathway and the motions that accompanied the endorsement.

One motion – the decision to use town funds to start the project – was approved narrowly, with Rowe, Backer and Jordan dissenting. McKenney, Swift-Kayatta, Lennon and Sherman voted to start the project using town funds.

Of the $110,000 needed to start the pathway, $36,000 will come from a town sidewalk fund and $74,000 will come from a 2008 bond for infrastructure and town center improvements.

McKenney said the pathway project will not increase any resident's taxes and that the town is financially stable.

"This town is in very good shape financially," he said. "We are budgeted quite well and are in a positive position as a community."

According to Town Manager Mike McGovern, the pathway cost will total $979,000. Construction will be about $677,000 and contingencies will add $122,000. The remaining balance, McGovern said, is made up of engineering fees.

The concept plans endorsed by the council include the construction of a raised, 10,200-foot long, 5-foot wide asphalt path along Shore Road from Fort Williams to the town center. In most places there will be a 3- to 5-foot wide esplanade between the path and Shore Road. Approximately 25 trees will have to be removed. The path will cross Shore Road twice, once near the southern end of Fort Williams and again near town center.

Nearly 35 people spoke during the public hearing. Opponent Paul Brown of Starboard Drive said the path would be too hilly, too narrow and had too few routes of escape. He said it would attract too many people with different agendas, including dog walkers, elderly strollers, runners, children and bicyclists. He said he was not in favor of spending nearly $1 million on something that may not be successful.

And Tom Kinley of Shore Road said the path would take away from the rural feel of Shore Road. He said a 5-foot pathway is a sidewalk, and he was concerned about the areas where the path crosses Shore Road.

"I think you are creating more safety issues than solving them," he said.

But many other residents spoke in favor of the pathway, calling it necessary for the safety of children, runners, bikers and drivers.

Councilors Lennon, Sherman and Backer encouraged residents who supported the pathway to find additional private funding for the project, and councilors approved town staff seeking federal and state grants.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net