Repairs, cleanup, parking planned at Cumberland-North Yarmouth preserve

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CUMBERLAND — This summer will see the creation of a parking lot at the Greely Road access point to the Knight’s Pond/Blueberry Hill preserve, as well as footbridge replacements and dam cleanup on the property.

The roughly 16,000-square-foot parking area, with 20 spaces, is to be built in August. No money has been budgeted for the work, since it will be accomplished using gravel from town-owned pits, town equipment, and Public Works employees from Cumberland and North Yarmouth, according to Cumberland Town Manager Bill Shane.

If an outside contractor had been hired, it would have cost about $50,000, he added. Trees removed from the area will be transplanted to places like Broad Cove Reserve, Shane said.

Two bridges, each about 10 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 4 inches thick, are to be replaced. Under state and local laws, any project within 250 feet of a water body must go through the shoreland zoning process, triggering a review by the town’s Coastal Waters Commission, Shane said in an interview June 30.

On June 20, the Town Council was scheduled to authorize Shane to work with the Cumberland/North Yarmouth Join Standing Committee on the bridge work, and to set a public hearing for July 25 to authorize a construction permit.

But the council tabled that hearing, after town staff found when inspecting the dam that debris had accumulated and had to be cleared. The town opted to postpone the project application to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection – and hence the hearing – in order to include both the dam and bridge work in the document.

“Hopefully we’ll have our permit sometime in September,” Shane said.

The Trust for Public Land, the Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust, and the Royal River Conservation Trust worked with the two towns to buy and preserve the 215-acre undeveloped parcel last year. It was owned by Rebecca Leland Swigget, who inherited the property from her parents, Richard and Helen Knight.

Funds for the $1.13 million acquisition and preservation came from several sources, including $300,000 from Cumberland’s Open Space Acquisition reserves, and $100,000 from North Yarmouth’s Future Lands fund.

The parcel, off 471 Greely Road Extension, is primarily in Cumberland, with 50 acres in North Yarmouth.

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

Two footbridges at the Knight’s Pond Preserve, which is in Cumberland and North Yarmouth, are due to be replaced.

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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.