Fees for Fort Williams Park may be an issue Cape Elizabeth has finally laid to rest.

Residents strongly rejected charging non-residents fees at Fort Williams Park, 3,145-1,951, on Election Day, Nov. 7. The issue had resurfaced numerous times since the town bought the fort in 1964, often failing passage by the town council by only a single vote. The defeat of the referendum may halt the debate for at least another decade, say some councilors.

“It is a resounding defeat,” Councilor Carolyn Fritz said Monday.

She said she’s hoping the fee question won’t come up again for many years, though she plans to keep her anti-fees signs in her attic.

Town Councilor Mary Ann Lynch, a strong proponent of the fees, said the day after the vote that she thought the large voter turnout resolved the issue.

Lynch said there was no question of what the people want.

“Frankly, I’m really glad everyone got to weigh in on the issue,” said Councilor Anne Swift-Kayatta, who supported park fees during a town council vote.

Fritz said she hopes people will step forward and continue to support the fort with private donations and through creative fundraising.

In the proposal voters rejected, the fees would have been collected according to a pay/display system of kiosks placed within the park. Visiting non-residents would have had to pay $5 a day or $25 a season to use the park. Buses and trolleys would have had to pay $20 a day or $100 for a seasonal pass. Cape residents would park for free when displaying a recycling center car decal.

People who voted in favor of the pay/display system did so because they thought the town has an undue burden to support and maintain the park.

“I’m for it,” said Peter McFarland, of Penny Lane. He said if town taxpayers pay for it, people who use it should help out, too.

Tony Dubaj, of Broad Cove Road, said he voted for the fees because it would apply only for people out of town. He said he was an advocate of user fees.

However, Rosemarie Townsend, of Brentwood Road, said she was against the fees because she did not see it adding much revenue for the town.

“Other towns leave open their parks,” she said. She felt it was part of the Cape’s civic responsibility to keep it free.

Sarah Nelson, a Mitchell Road resident, summed up the sentiment of most voters. “I like not having to pay when I go,” she said.


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