Fundraising for Cape Elizabeth path project off to good start

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Proponents say fundraising for a $200,000 local match required for construction of the proposed Shore Road path is going better than they expected.

Safe Access for Everyone is a community group that supports the proposed two-mile pedestrian and bicycle path. Jim Kerney, one of the group’s founders, said approximately $65,000 has been raised since SAFE received non-profit status in late March.

“We feel we are on or ahead of expectations and are thrilled with the response to date,” Kerney said.

“We’ve received very encouraging feedback from residents and their friends,” he said. “We have a lot of people who have seen our website, have responded to a small mailing, or have seen the large thermometer in front of Town Hall that records our progress.”

The Shore Road path has been discussed for several years. In 1996, the Town Council rejected construction of a 4-foot-wide path. Then, in 2007, the council adopted a comprehensive plan with a feasibility study for a path.

A Shore Road Pathway Committee was formed, and in September of 2009, the plan was officially accepted by the council.

On June 14, the Town Council authorized a $709,000 grant application for the $1 million project, leaving a $200,000 local match to be raised by October 2011. The council also authorized $110,000 to cover permitting and application fees.

SAFE has committed to raising the $200,000 and is now more than a quarter of the way toward its goal.

Kerney said the next step is to run a campaign for corporate funding. He said he plans to talk to local businesses, as well as businesses that use the road and service residents who live in the neighborhoods off Shore Road. 

“It makes sense that companies that use big trucks and heavy equipment along Shore Road would want a safe pathway for pedestrians and bikers to use,” he said. “They may want to participate in the creation of a safe pathway for Cape Elizabeth. It’s a benefit to everyone.” 

Town Planner Maureen O’Meara said the Maine Department of Transportation Quality Community Program grant application was submitted on June 29. She does not expect to hear a response until next spring.

She said funds for the grant depend on federal transportation money, which has not yet been authorized by Congress. A percentage is expected to be allocated for state bicycle and pedestrian projects, but the amount is unknown, she said.

“I am cautiously optimistic, and think we have an extremely competitive project,” O’Meara said. As for raising the local share, she said she is impressed by the work of the SAFE group.

“They are doing so well. They are all making an impressive effort to raise these funds,” O’Meara said.

Kerney said he is confident the group can raise the $200,00 by the October, 2011, deadline.

The proposed Shore Road plan will go before the Planning Board on July 20 for a site plan review and public hearing.

To review the plan, visit capeelizabeth.com or the SAFE page on Facebook.

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

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