2012-12-28 / Front Page

Trust closes on Warren Woods purchase

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Scarborough Land Trust President Paul Austin, left, Becky Seel, a founding director of the Scarborough Land Trust and Harvey Warren’s daughter, and Warren, former owner, attended the land trust’s closing on the Warren Woods property. (Courtesy photo) Scarborough Land Trust President Paul Austin, left, Becky Seel, a founding director of the Scarborough Land Trust and Harvey Warren’s daughter, and Warren, former owner, attended the land trust’s closing on the Warren Woods property. (Courtesy photo) A 157-acre piece of property near the corner of Payne Road and Mussey Road has officially become land trustowned property.

In April the Town Council gave the Scarborough Land Conservation Trust the go-ahead to use $228,750 from the town’s land acquisition reserve fund to purchase the Warren Woods property. The reserve fund includes money set aside from three municipal bond referendums to conserve land in Scarborough. The Scarborough Land Trust was tasked with raising the remaining $140,000 needed for the project.

The Scarborough Land Conservation Trust closed on the property Friday, Dec. 19.

“After we purchase the property, our next step is to develop a stewardship plan that will include signage and the creation of trails for passive recreation so the property is usable to the public,” said Kathy Mills, executive director of the Scarborough Land Conservation Trust.

The property includes forested uplands, open fields, acres of wetlands and 1,000 feet of frontage on the Nonesuch River. It also includes a series of hiking trails.

Boyle Associates, an environmental consulting firm in Westbrook, conducted a natural resources survey of the property over the summer.

“We were blown away by the flora on the Warren property,” Kelsey Kaufman, an environmental scientist with Boyle Associates said in a press release from the land trust. “The wetlands and river provide habitat from some unusual plants and there are remarkably few invasive species.”

According to the land trust, Boyle Associates found wild orchids, carnivorous sundew plants and a pitch pine bog. The property is also potential habitat for the New England cottontail rabbit, which is considered an endangered species in Maine.

While the vast majority of the property will remain conservation land, the Town Council approved a memorandum of understanding with the Scarborough Land Conservation Trust on Wednesday, Dec. 19, that would set aside six acres for active recreation for town residents.

An official plan on how that six-acre piece of the property, most likely abutting Payne Road, could be used has not been determined yet, but could include two ball fields and accompanying infrastructure.

“We have no definite plans, but this is the time to pursue that option,” said Town Manager Tom Hall.

Town Councilor James Benedict was the only councilor who didn’t sign off on the memorandum of understanding. His concern, he said, was the fact that the memorandum was a nonbinding agreement.

Hall, who worked with officials from the land trust to come up with the memorandum, does not share that concern.

“I have no reservations at all,” he told the Town Council Dec. 19. “The land trust is a local group here in Scarborough and, frankly, they would be foolish to bite the hand that feeds them.”

Jeremy Wintersteen, a member of the board of directors who represented the land trust at the meeting, said it is not the board’s intention to back away from the agreement.

“The land trust board is in total support,” he said. “We see this as a great partnership between the town and the land trust in making this a truly multi-use property.”

“We are really looking forward to this project,” he continued, “and we think we have a good frame work in the (memorandum of understanding).”

Hall said the property is unique, given the fact that it is located in the center of town and is in close proximity to the schools and the Oak Hill neighborhood.

The Scarborough Conservation Land Trust has been protecting land in town for more than 35 years by working with private landowners interested in land conservation. Today, thanks to land purchases and land donations, the land trust, originally known as the Owascoag Land Conservation Trust, has conserved more than 1,000 acres of land, much of it open for passive recreation.

The Payne Road property is the thirdlargest piece of property owned by the land trust. In 2004, the land trust purchased the 434-acre Meserve Farm, which is now home to Broadturn Farm, a farm run by John Bliss and Stacy Brenner. The 120- acre Libby River Farm by Camp Ketcha on Black Point Road was purchased in 1997 and the 180-acre Fuller Farm, which is located on Broadturn Road and also abuts a section of the Nonesuch River, was purchased in 2001.

Want to comment on this story? Login to our website at leader.mainelymediallc.com and let us know your thoughts.

Return to top