In poll, Cumberland residents cool to development of town-owned land

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CUMBERLAND — More than half of the 85 residents who participated in an Oct. 25 straw poll opposed development of a 32-acre piece of town land being considered for housing.

Fifty-five percent of those at the community meeting said the property should be retained for a future, undecided use, or preserved as open space.

Town officials organized the gathering at Greely Middle School to help guide them in deciding the best use for the property, which sits adjacent to Town Hall off Tuttle Road. Voting took place electronically by hand-held devices, with results posted immediately on a screen for all to see.

Twenty-two percent of those polled wanted the town to work with a developer to construct a senior housing community, while 21 percent preferred development of a multigenerational neighborhood.

Only 1 percent said the town should sell the land.

The Town Council invited representatives from Portland-based Developers Collaborative, including principal Kevin Bunker, to present the group’s proposal for the site.

Developers Collaborative is proposing a blend of senior and family housing, with as many as 100 one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

The company is also proposing an assisted-living facility for seniors with about 50 apartments, as well as an approximately 10,000-square-foot multigenerational recreation and community building available for use by residents of the neighborhood and the greater Cumberland community.

The project would have common green space, pocket parks and community orchards and gardens, along with a sidewalk and trail network that integrates with Town Hall, the Town Forest and Drowne Road ball fields, and sidewalks planned for Tuttle Road.

More information is available at cumberlandmaine.com/home/news/community-meeting-october-25th.

Bunker “clearly represented a great vision for us” of what could be done with the property, Council Chairman Mike Edes told the audience at the start of the meeting.

He noted, though, that “we are not committed to a project. … We may end up doing nothing with this land. We may go with senior housing, we may go in another direction. We may just hold onto the land; we don’t know.”

The council could vote Monday, Nov. 13, on whether to enter a contract with Developers Collaborative, Town Manager Bill Shane said. After the polling, he said, “I don’t know where they’ll go, but we’ll find out … . They have three weeks to mull it over.”

In other poll questions, 87 percent of residents opposed moving the Department of Public Works garage to the land. If the site is developed, 53 percent supported a town-owned community building, while 47 percent were opposed.

Sixty percent said the price of housing in Cumberland is problematic. In terms of rent – some kind of affordable housing is under consideration on the parcel – 46 percent saw $1,050 as affordable, while 42 percent saw the level at $1,450, 11 percent at $1,850, and 1 percent at $2,250.

Fifty-two percent of the respondents said they have lived in Cumberland at least 26 years, followed by 16-25 years, 20 percent; up to five years, 18 percent, and sic-15 years, 11 percent.

Forty-four percent were at least 67 years old, followed by 51-66, 35 percent; 36-50, 13 percent, and 18-35, 8 percent.

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

Mike Edes, chairman of the Cumberland Town Council, addresses residents who attended a community meeting Oct. 25 on what best to do with 32 acres of vacant town-owned land.

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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.