Saturday, April 19, 2014
PORTLAND – The City Council must decide next month whether to spend up to $75,000 to purchase Canco Woods – a 12.9-acre property that would forever be protected from development if the deal goes through.
Neighbors of Canco Woods posted signs in April announcing a meeting to brainstorm ways to save their woods from industrial development. It has long been used as a park.
2012 Press Herald file photo/Gordon Chibroski
Mayor Michael Brennan said the council will take a final vote on the proposal at its Nov. 5 meeting.
The council gave the proposal a first reading Monday night, a routine acceptance that requires no action.
But the fact that the proposal is before the city is good news for the neighborhood.
The parcel between Canco Road and Torrey Street was put under contract to be sold to a developer earlier this year, prompting residents to mount a campaign to preserve the land.
Canco Woods has long been used as a park. Over the years, residents have built bridges that cross wetlands and a stream. The trails connect to others in the Portland Trails network.
Under the proposal that was presented to the City Council on Monday, the Trust for Public Land – acting on behalf of the neighborhood – has obtained an option to buy the land for $350,000.
The trust is a national nonprofit conservation group.
The property, which is zoned for light industrial uses, is owned by Union Water Power Co., an entity of Central Maine Power Co.
The option to buy must be exercised by the end of November, with the closing set to take place no later than Dec. 14.
The Trust for Public Land would acquire Canco Woods and sell it back to the city of Portland for no more than $75,000.
The city would then convey a conservation easement over the land to Portland Trails.
Canco Woods would then be placed in the city's land bank and rezoned.
In the meantime, the Friends of Canco Woods will continue to raise funds toward the $400,000 needed to close on the sale, with the extra $50,000 going toward maintaining the property.
According to a memo to the City Council, residents have received $200,000 in pledges.
The trust has applied for grants totalling $90,000.
Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org