Plan to secure access to Harpswell beach falls through

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HARPSWELL — The latest effort to secure public access to Cedar Beach has failed.

The Friends of Cedar Beach announced Wednesday that they would no longer be pursuing a $300,000 grant from the Land for Maine’s Future Water Access Fund that would have aided in the acquisition of a public easement on privately owned Cedar Beach Road.

The group formed after voters authorized the town in March to spend $220,000 to secure access, far less than the $950,000 that the owners of the road, Charles and Sally Abrahamson, were seeking.

Receiving the state grant was a key part of the group’s fundraising strategy, spokeswoman Mary Ann Nahf said on Wednesday.

But the Friends were unable to apply for the grant because ownership of a section of property where Robinhood Road meets Cedar Beach Road is unclear, and would require more research.

With the deadline for the grant approaching, there isn’t time to clarify the ownership, Nahf said.

The group hoped to raise $285,000 from private donations to supplement the grant and money contributed by the town. The cost of the public easement had been set at $805,000, but Nahf said that price is now moot.

Initially, the Friends had been motivated by a Dec. 31, 2011, deadline imposed by town residents for resolving the access issues. After that date, the town’s ability to spend $220,000 would expire, and there would have to be another vote to reauthorize the spending.

Now the Friends have more time to secure access to the beach, although Nahf said they aren’t quite sure how.

“While that still is our goal,” she said, “we don’t know quite how we’re going to reach it.”

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

This story was edited on July 22, 2011 to correct the deadline imposed by town residents for resolving beach access issues.