Harpswell groups hope to ensure access to Cedar Beach

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HARPSWELL — At the March 12 Town Meeting, voters authorized the town to spend up to $220,000 to secure access to Cedar Beach. But Sally and Charles Abrahamson, who own the right of way on Cedar Beach Road, say that’s not enough.

Now a group of residents and town officials is forming to try to raise an an additional $730,000 to ensure that beach-goers will be able to access one of the few sandy shorelines in town.

The Bailey Island Association and Harpswell Heritage Land Trust are the two organizations spearheading the group, which has been named Friends of Cedar Beach.

The goal is to first obtain access to Cedar Beach, and secondly, to provide adequate parking and sanitation.

Mary Ann Napf, who sits on the board of the BIA, said the idea for Friends of Cedar Beach came after the Town Meeting, when it became clear that voters were not going to authorize spending the full amount sought by the Abrahamsons.

“We thought this might be an opportunity to approach people to donate some money,” Napf said.

While the town can’t spend more than $220,000 of taxpayer money, it can accept gifts and donations, according to Kristi Eiane, town administrator.

Reed Coles, executive director of Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, said there is considerable interest from citizens in helping to secure access to the beach. He said his organization is working with the BIA to identify lead donors.

Like Coles, Napf said she has heard “very positive things” from people she approached, “but nothing concrete.” She anticipated it could take a while to solicit donations and apply for grants to raise the money. But she is hoping to be ready to actively raise funds this summer.

If the group isn’t able to raise the $730,000 to secure a public easement on Cedar Beach road, Napf is worried the Abrahamsons will have to sell their property.

“It’s a very picturesque property … and the tendency for someone buying it would be to want to have their privacy,” she said.

Charles Abrahamson wouldn’t speak on the record about whether his property is for sale, or whether people are being allowed to access. But as of March 26, neither the road nor the walkway to the beach were blocked, and there were no signs prohibiting access.

Napf said she hopes that if the group is able to buy an easement for public access, “we have the opportunity to maybe, once and for all, take care of this situation.”

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @guerinemily.

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