FREEPORT – L.L.Bean will contribute $500,000 to the town’s effort to develop athletic fields and recreational trails off Hunter Road, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.

L.L.Bean’s board of directors approved the donation Friday to help the company celebrate its upcoming 100th anniversary: It has been doing business on Main Street since 1912, said Carolyn Beem.

Freeport Fields and Trails, a coalition of local residents and business owners, developed the proposal for a $3.3 million, multi-use complex including several playing fields, trails for running, biking and cross-country skiing, and a recreational lodge.

“The timing of the Freeport Fields and Trails project was perfect for us,” Beem said. “We see the town as a huge stakeholder in our business. L.L. Bean is committed to the outdoors and we sell products that help people enjoy the outdoors. This is a perfect fit.”

The Town Council voted unanimously in April to spend $2.3 million in surplus funds on the fields and trails project. L.L. Bean officials notified town leaders of the $500,000 donation Tuesday.

“Our company was built on the philosophy that outdoor experiences enhance our lives,” L.L. Bean President Christopher McCormick wrote in a letter to the council. “We are excited about the plan. It is well thought out, integrates well with existing outdoor trails and public properties, and has been presented with great enthusiasm and clarity.”

The company’s contribution makes a huge dent in the $1 million that Freeport Fields and Trails had to raise to complete the project and cover future maintenance.

“It’s more than we could have dreamed of,” said Sande Updegraph, executive director of the Freeport Economic Development Corp., a sponsor of the fields and trails project. “It really is an extraordinary contribution to the community, and the fields and trails project will be a wonderful economic driver for the community.”

The coalition still must raise $500,000.

The Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce will hold a public meeting on June 9 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Freeport Community Library to provide information about the Freeport Fields and Trails project and two other field projects in town. Representatives will make brief presentations and take questions on each project.

A ground-breaking ceremony for the Freeport Fields and Trails project is scheduled for June 14. The running and hiking trails are expected to be completed and the fields seeded by Sept. 30. 

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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