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Acquisition to preserve Clapboard Island in Falmouth expected this week

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Acquisition to preserve Clapboard Island in Falmouth expected this week

FALMOUTH — With Clapboard Island is scheduled to go back on the open market at the end of the week, proponents of purchasing part of the island for public use still have to raise $100,000.

But the shortfall may not get in the way of closing the deal.

Keith Fletcher, project manager at Maine Coast Heritage Trust, said he expects the sale to close this week. He said that while unforeseen obstacles could come up, the closing seems "99.9 percent certain."

"My board has decided to go ahead and close in any case," Fletcher said. "If we have to raise a little money after the fact, we'll do that. We can put some of our own funds in as kind of a loan. So we will be able to close."

The owners of the island, three siblings from Philadelphia, agreed last year to take the property off the market until Aug. 15, to give the trust enough time to raise the $1.4 million needed to buy the land, plus an additional $200,000 to serve as a stewardship endowment. 

"We have approximately a gap of $100,000 left and a few days to raise it," said Betsy Ham, director of land protections for MCHT. "But we are in good shape, the board has agreed that this is an important project, and it's looking good, (although) nothing is done until it is done."

Ham said fundraising is "a bit of a moving target," because of matching opportunities for investors.

"We have the opportunity from a couple of different matchers to get some more funds, but only if the people that are giving the initial money say that they would be willing to allow these people to match," Ham said. "I think these people in the end will say yes, it seems like a great way to stretch your private funds. But I can't guarantee it."

Fletcher said the match source issue came from the Pew Charitable Trust. According to Fletcher, Pew agreed to provide a 20 percent match to private donations, and there was a question of whether it would match the town's $200,000 donation of public funds. Fletcher said on Monday that Pew will match the town funds.

He said this match "puts another $40,000 into the projects." 

The 17-acre island, which sits about a mile offshore from Town Landing, was originally put up for sale in 2011.

Fletcher also said there is also an agreement to sell a cottage on the island. He said that sale will close sometime in September. He said the buyer is one of the three owners of the island.

He added that at his last count there have been 175 donors.

Fletcher said the main concern now is managing the island. He said he's already noticed people need to know where to go when they arrive on the island, and to land on the beach on the northern part of the island and not at the private docks.

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