Cumberland to buy land near Knight's Pond

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CUMBERLAND — Another small piece of land near Knight’s Pond will be going into conservation.

The Town Council on Oct. 22 unanimously approved spending up to $10,000 from property acquisition reserves to purchase 1.21 acres near Knight’s Pond.

The parcel, which contains a gravel pit owned by John Paynter, will be used to capture pond overflows and mitigate flooding along Oak Ridge Road and Greely Road Extension.

The acquisition follows one last year of a 19.6-acre parcel, also bought from Paynter, that included nearly 13 acres of the east portion of Knight’s Pond. The town is paying the $90,000 purchase price monthly over the course of 10 years, at 5 percent interest, with funds drawn from the town’s land acquisition funds.

The $10,000 the town is paying for the new parcel – which includes surveying and deeds – will be added to its existing payment agreement with Paynter.

The purchases follow the 2015 acquisition of the 215-acre undeveloped Knight’s Pond/Blueberry Hill by Cumberland and North Yarmouth, aided by grant funds and donations, which at the time allowed most of the lake to be conserved. The parcel, off Greely Road Extension, is primarily in Cumberland, with 50 acres in North Yarmouth.

A breach on the new parcel about six years ago after a large amount of rain caused flooding downstream across Oak Ridge Road and to Greely Road Extension, Town Manager Bill Shane told the council Oct. 22.

A girl nearly died after falling face first into a ditch, when “there was so much velocity and force of the water, she couldn’t pick herself up,” Shane said. 

“To me, this (parcel) represents not a really desirable area for open space, but a very desirable area for stormwater control and stormwater management,” he said, noting that the town could build a small dam in the area to hold back water, and “throttle” that water down along Oak Ridge.

The dam “wouldn’t prevent (water) from ever traveling down there,” Shane said, “but should that area be breached, we would have the ability to add something for stormwater control … to prevent downstream damage and flooding.”

A detention pond, which allows for the rate of runoff to be controlled by a pond and structure, is already in place, Shane explained, adding that the dam would control the speed of the water coming from a significant storm event.

Storms occurring now are “much more intense than they ever were,” he noted, with the atmosphere holding about 14 percent more moisture than two decades ago, he said. “… Having some safeguards in place for a 40-acre pond I think is a very wise move.”

Councilor George Turner, who used to hunt birds around the gravel pit, agreed with that notion.

“The town really ought to own the control over that flow,” he said. “There’s no question about it in my mind.”

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

Cumberland is spending up to $10,000 from property acquisition reserves to purchase 1.21 acres near Knight’s Pond.

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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.