s-splandgift-010209 City secures open space along waterfront

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The list of open spaces in South Portland just got bigger.
The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday morning, with Councilors Jim Highes and Maxine Beecher absent, to accept an undeveloped lot off of Elm Street, near Turner’s Island.
The vote was taken during a special council meeting to allow the donor, Thomas Shorthill, to write the gift off his 2008 taxes, Mayor Tom Blake said. The city had to accept the property before midnight on Dec. 31.
By accepting the land, the city will lose more than $1,000 in annual property tax revenue. But Blake said that’s a small price to pay for a prime piece of property with Fore River waterfront.
“It’s a very smart move for him and it’s a great acquisition for the city,” Blake said.
City Manager Jim Gailey said Shorthill paid half of his property taxes this year.
Shorthill approached the city about donating the property in August. He also commissioned a survey and
an appraisal of the property, which is valued at $78,000.
More than three-quarters of an acre of the property, which has 100 feet of frontage on Elm Street, is upland of the tidal zone and marsh, while another two acres of land is submerged in the tidal zone.
Blake said the city has no plans for the property, other than to keep it as open space. At most, the city would install a picnic table, he said.
The land acquisition, Blake said, is in line with both the Comprehensive and Open Space plans.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net.