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Cape Elizabeth celebrates connections created by Shore Road pathway

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Cape Elizabeth celebrates connections created by Shore Road pathway

CAPE ELIZABETH — Several years after discussion and debate about the project began, the Shore Road pathway was dedicated Monday.

"This project epitomizes what can happen when groups work together," Town Council Chairwoman Sara Lennon told the approximately 100 residents who attended the ceremony. "We owe miles and miles and miles of gratitude to everyone who helped make this happen."

Although some work still remains, the majority of the pathway is paved and was heavily used Monday, as residents staged a ceremonial walk from Town Hall to the south entrance of Fort Williams Park.

The genesis of the pathway was concern about the safety of people who run and bike along Shore Road, where narrow shoulders and tight corners created dangerous situations between cars and pedestrians.

Howard and Jacinta Littlefield supported the project since its inception and were some of the people who raised concerns about the dangers on the road.

They said they are happy to see the pathway coming to completion.

"I was probably the first one to walk the path when they laid the first bit path down," Howard Littlefield said, who was also on the Shore Road Pathway committee. "I never thought we'd actually see the pathway."

"We walked it when it was dangerous and now we're going to walk it when it's safe," Jacinta Littlefield said. "It's great."

The Town Council approved the 5-foot-wide asphalt-paved pathway in 2010, after a protracted debate about the project that divided the council and residents.

Former Town Councilor Anne Swift-Kayatta, who was on the council during the debate over the pathway, said she supported the project from the start and is glad to see it come to fruition.

"The citizens really stepped up this time and it's really brought the community together," Swift-Kayatta said. "I think this is going to be seen as a real jewel of Cape Elizabeth."

Karen Holmes echoed those comments and said it has brought the town closer together.

"I live off of Shore Road and now I see and talk to neighbors I wouldn't have seen otherwise," Holmes said.

Others, like current Town Councilors Jessica Sullivan and Kathy Ray, were not initially enthusiastic about the project, but said they have come around to see the benefit of the path and how it has affected the community.

"You just don't see a lot of Cape Elizabeth coming together like this," Ray said. "I'm delighted with how the path turned out."

Sullivan said she noticed people using it as soon as the initial pavement was laid down.

"It's obviously filling a need," Sullivan said. "I've heard from people who were against it and now they're pleased with how it turned out."

The majority of the more than $800,000 pathway was paid for through a Maine Department of Transportation grant of $729,000. The remainder was raised privately by the town.

Retaining walls are the final piece of the project and should be completed by the end of the month, according to town officials.

L.P. Murray & Sons of Cape Elizabeth is the contractor for the project.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.