Standish residents could decide within a year whether to approve a plan for a long-awaited public beach.

Early next month, Sebago Technics will start surveying to determine the best route for an access road from Harmons Beach Road to Sandbar Beach, which the town plans to lease from the Portland Water District.

The firm will also begin negotiating with the owners of property through which the road would run, said Town Manager Gordon Billington.

“That’s the first step,” he said.

Billington said the town would have to include funding in next year’s budget to move forward with the engineering and design of an access road, parking lot and pedestrian bridge to the beach, which is bordered by woods and accessible only by water.

That work would take about six months, said Will Conway of Sebago Technics.

Billington didn’t have an estimate for how much the project would cost, but said it would be more than $75,000, which would require voter approval.

The townwide vote could happen in November 2013 or June 2014, he said.

It would be the third proposal in the past 20 years for the water district to provide beach access to the town.

The other two plans were contingent on moving the town’s boat launch farther from the district’s intake pipes in Lower Bay to protect the source of Greater Portland’s drinking water. Residents opposed the plans when they came up, in 1994 and 2002.

A committee of town councilors and water district trustees has been working for the past 10 years to come up with a new plan.

In the spring, the council and the water district signed a memorandum of understanding that would allow the town to lease the land and build the access to it.

The two sides have not negotiated details of the lease or the management plan for the beach.

Wayne Newbegin, a former town councilor who serves on the committee, said he believes this plan is more promising than the previous ones.

Newbegin, who lives on Harmons Beach Road, is one of three property owners who would likely lose some land to the access road. He said he has no problem with that.

“I think it’s going to be beneficial to the people of Standish,” he said.

 

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

lbridgers@pressherald.com