Cumberland, North Yarmouth preservation campaign nears $1.1M goal

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CUMBERLAND — A campaign to fund the $1.13 acquisition of a 215-acre parcel of undeveloped land in Cumberland and North Yarmouth is $90,000 from completion.

The Trust for Public Land, the Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust, and the Royal River Conservation Trust have been working with the two towns to purchase and preserve Knight’s Pond and Blueberry Hill, a mostly forested tract off Greely Road Extension owned by Rebecca Leland Swigget.

Most of the property is in Cumberland, with 50 acres in North Yarmouth. The land has a network of recreational trails and is near both town centers, CCLT President Penny Asherman said last March in a presentation to the Cumberland Town Council.

The 46-acre pond was the site of a community skating party Jan. 3, which marked the start of the final fundraising push.

“Mr. Knight, the previous landowner, created Knight’s Pond as a community gathering place where everyone in town was welcome to skate on the pond,” Sarah Stickney, associate director of philanthropy in Maine for The Trust for Public Land, said in a press release Monday. “We hope to raise the final money needed to protect this special place for local families to enjoy long into the future.”

Along with hiking and skating, the property’s recreational opportunities include ice fishing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, and mountain biking, picnicking and kayaking in warmer months, the press release said. The property is also near both town centers.

The two towns will jointly own and manage the property once it is acquired, and the two trusts will hold conservation easements on the land, managing it for recreation, protecting wildlife habitat, and offering learning opportunities for all ages.

Cumberland has set aside up to $300,000 in Open Space Acquisition reserves to buy the property, while the North Yarmouth Board of Selectmen approved spending up to $100,000 from the town’s Future Lands fund; the latter expenditure will go to a final vote at Town Meeting this April.

Also in hand are a $225,000 Land for Maine’s Future grant, as well as $415,000 from foundations and private individuals.

Public meetings on the acquisition are expected to be held in both towns in the coming months.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A campaign to fund the $1.13 acquisition of Knight’s Pond and Blueberry Hill, a 215-acre parcel of undeveloped land in Cumberland and North Yarmouth is $90,000 from completion. A community skating party Jan. 3 at the 46-acre pond marked the start of the final fundraising effort.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.