Falmouth to buy 'unique ecological area' for open space

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FALMOUTH — Three acres of privately owned land on Woodville Road will be preserved as open space.

The Town Council on Monday agreed to purchase the land owned by Michael Bordick adjacent to the Falmouth Country Club for $30,000.

Councilors also voted to amend the code of ordinances to allow two nonresidents to be appointed to the Harbor/Waterfront Committee.

No one from the public attended the meeting, which moved along rapidly until an executive session took more than an hourd to discuss the land acquisition.

Town Manager Nathan Poore said the town purchased 51 acres of land in 2011 from Bordick, who originally owned 61 acres. Bordick then decided to sell an additional five acres; a house will be built on the remaining two acres, which was purchased by a private buyer.

The $30,000 will come from the Open Space Fund, which, Poore said, totals about $300,000. The original 51 acres were purchased for $160,000 with grants from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program, he said Tuesday.

According to Poore, the council has been interested in the property since May.

“It’s a win-win,” Poore said at the meeting, because Bordick gets to sell the land, a landowner will get to build a house, and the town now gets three acres of open space with river frontage on the east branch of the Piscataqua River.

Robert Shafto, the town’s open space ombudsman, said there are no walking trails on the land, and it is the only major conservation area in town without public access.

“It’s a very beautiful area, (and) a very unique ecological area,” Shafto said.

Poore said a trail head will allow the town to build trails on the property, along with  greater access.

Shafto said after a good rain the river frontage is deep enough to launch a kayak or canoe, and there is an area that would accommodate those types of vessels. Additionally, he said the town would widen a section of Woodville Road near the property to allow parking on the side of the road.

“This property doesn’t connect with other properties,” Shafto said. “I don’t envision it being an active trail head.”

Shafto said there is potential for a trail loop of about 1 1/2 to 2 miles on the property, and there is almost a mile of river frontage. Hunting is already allowed and will continue to be permitted.

Councilor Caleb Hemphill told the council he was on the property when he participated in invasive plant species eradication efforts. He called the parcel a “very interesting property.”

“It affords some good variety of habitat,” Hemphill said.

Harbor Committee

At a meeting in May this year, the Harbor/Waterfront Committee voted to request a change to the Coastal Waters Ordinance that would allow three nonresidents to participate and vote on the committee.

The reason the committee sought the change was to allow Handy Boat and the Portland Yacht Club, which are members of the committee, to allow their representatives to be nonresidents. A third at-large resident was sought by the committee, too.

The council unanimously voted to allow the nonresident representatives.

Poore on Tuesday said Portland Yacht Club has a resident on the committee, but Handy Boat’s spot is vacant. The ordinances now states that no more than two members of the committee may be nonresidents.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Seal of Falmouth

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.