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SCARBOROUGH — The Scarborough Land Trust is requesting $90,000 to protect 14 acres of town-owned land in the Pine Point area, effectively emptying the town’s Land Bond account.
The goal is to make the land available for walking trails and access to Scarborough Marsh for birding, photography, nature appreciation, and other passive uses.
Rich Bard, executive director of the trust, the total cost of the Blue Point Preserve Campaign would be $270,000. The funds would go toward purchase of the 236 Pine Point Road property and an adjacent parcel near Seavey Landing on Pine Point Road, plus improvements for public access (such as a parking lot and walking trail construction) and future maintenance.
If approved by the Town Council, this would be the trust’s first preserve in the Pine Point area. Since 2004, it has spent just over $3.4 million to acquire 725 acres of land using Land Bond funds. The new parcel would add to the six public access preserves in town.
According to Bard, if the request is approved, only $270 in bond funds would be left, with no plans to replenish the fund in the foreseeable future.
Bard said the Blue Point Preserve Campaign launched last fall, when members of the Blue Point Congregational Church governing board approached the trust about conserving the land adjacent to the church. Since then, the trust has signed a contract to purchase the land and completed some background work. The only thing left to do is raise the money.
“We already had our eye on the adjacent parcel near the church, but hadn’t done anything about it because it was owned by the town,” Bard said. “So when the church reached out, knowing we had an interest in purchasing the property, it took off from there.”
Bard said the trust is also asking the community to make donations to cover $100,000 in costs. Businesses and individuals have already begun supporting the campaign, although Bard declined to disclose how much has been donated.
To complete the property purchase by July 10, Bard said he’d like to prepare the request for Town Council approval on June 5, but was uncertain about the process.
“There are still a lot of moving parts and that makes pinpointing certain aspects of the process more complicated than others,” he said. “We are still planning some kind of public outreach in the community and we just hope to community engages and sees the importance of this.”
Town Manager Tom Hall said while he hasn’t been informed about the campaign or the request for funding, the council could consider the proposal at the June 5 meeting if the request is submitted in time. He said the proposal would only need one-time approval.
If the council doesn’t approve the grant, Bard said the trust would apply for grants elsewhere and seek additional community support.
According to the trust, a habitat analysis by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the Blue Point Preserve is likely to protect high-value habitat for several bird species, including snowy egret, whippoorwill, oriole and more.
“It’s currently a raw ecosystem that we want to help maintain. It will become a place where the community can engage with nature,” Bard said. “It will give walking trail access to the marsh for birding and photography, too. We think it’s a dense neighborhood that needs more recreational opportunities.”
In addition to the new public space, Bard said the initiative will help protect water quality in the Scarborough Marsh by removing a house on the property and keeping riparian buffers intact to filter runoff from nearby roads and communities. He said the barriers will stop herbicides and pesticides from contaminating the marsh.
“This project would not be possible if not for our partnership with the Friends of Scarborough Marsh, along with the Blue Point Congregational Church and the Town of Scarborough,” land trust President Rick Shinay said in a press release. “This preserve will benefit everyone in the Pine Point area, so I hope many of our neighbors will step forward to support this effort.”
Scarborough Land Trust is raising funds to protect 14 acres along the marsh at Pine Point. The trust is requesting the last $90,000 in the town’s Land Bond fund.
The star on the map indicates the area being sought for conservation by the Scarborough Land Trust at 236 Pine Point Road.