Divided Cape Elizabeth council OKs funds for land trust acquisition

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council on Monday narrowly approved a $75,000 appropriation to benefit the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust.

Councilors on July 11 also approved an ordinance rewrite and a compromise for tennis and pickleball players at Fort Williams Park.

The funding for CELT was approved 4-3, with Councilors Molly MacAuslan, Kathy Ray and Jessica Sullivan opposed. The donation will help CELT purchase the Glew property, a parcel of just less than 23 acres near Great Pond and Jewett Road. 

The land connects to the town’s Greenbelt trail system. With the new funding, a public access easement will be created. 

The council’s appropriation will come from the town’s land acquisition fund; the Conservation Commission recommended that the Town Council transfer the funds.

The council gave conditional approval to the funding on June 13, pending a final agreement that was drafted by the town attorney. The town will jointly manage the land with CELT and will be “equal partners,” according to the Conservation Commission.

The opposing councilors said they were concerned about a clause in the agreement that CELT has the final say if any disagreements over public easements arise.

“When it was discussed that we would be jointly identifying and developing projects, this gave us a lot of rights,” Ray said. “That sentence right there takes away all those perceived rights because if there’s a disagreement we’re giving them the authority to make the final decision.”

CELT is expected to close on the acquisition Aug. 1. The organization is purchasing the land from Barry Glew for $315,000. Aside from town funds, CELT has been soliciting donations, applying for grants, and has funds in its land acquisition account. 

Ordinance rewrite

Councilors on Monday also approved a total rewrite of the ordinance that governs the town’s boards and committees.

The rewrite was proposed by the ordinance committee to organize the ordinance and clarify the purpose of each committee. 

Changes in the rewrite include changing the names of groups now called “boards” or “commissions” to “committees,” so it will be clearer that they are Town Council advisory groups. The Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Board of Assessment Review will be excluded from this rule.

Councilor Caitlin Jordan, a member of the ordinance committee, said the change will show that all the committees are important, regardless of whether they meet once a year or every month.

“Our thought was trying to have a uniform name across the board,” she said. “All work is equally important.”

Jordan said the ordinance committee, which also includes Councilors Jessica Sullivan and Sara Lennon, didn’t want any committee members to feel less valued than others.

“We didn’t want people feeling like they had a higher purpose because they were a trustee or a commission member,” Jordan said. 

Sullivan agreed, and said changing the names reflects the true purpose and responsibilities of the committees.

“‘Commission’ is a word that can be construed to denote authority, as can a trustee,” she said.

The council also approved the ordinance committee’s recommendation that members of the firing range committee be appointed by the same process used for other committees.

According to the boards and committee ordinance, committee members are appointed after being recommended by the appointments committee and approved by the Town Council. 

Pickleball

Last fall it came to the attention of the council that there were competing demands for court time from tennis and pickleball players at Fort Williams Park. 

An ad hoc committee created by the council last November recommended a short-term compromise as a one-year pilot program: On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the lower courts at Fort Williams will be reserved for tennis until 11 a.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they will be reserved for pickleball until 11 a.m.

The courts will also be repainted with more distinct colored lines to reduce confusion.

“If it doesn’t work out,” Town Manager Mike McGovern said, “we’ll come back with other issues.”

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

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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.
  • Mainer1

    Cape Elizabeth is certainly not divided when it comes to spending the tax payer’s money!